The Cotuit Kettleers are steadily moving closer to the top in the Western Division. Led by the hot hitting of Bryan Harris (LSU), the team entered the first week of July just two points off the lead in second place.
Cotuit ended the month of June with a 5-2 loss to Yarmouth-Dennis. Jeff Manship (Notre Dame) was tagged with the defeat in a game in which the Red Sox knocked out 16 hits. The lone bright spot for the Kettleers was provided by Harris who went 2-for-4 at the plate with a two-run homer. He currently leads the league in hitting with the required 45 plate appearances and an average of .339. He is also the league leader in RBIs with 13.
"It took a little while for it to click," Harris said of his surge at the plate. "I started off slow, but now I’m seeing the ball well and hitting the ball well."
Harris played for the Kettleers last summer, finishing the season as a Cape League All-Star with an average at the plate of .308. "This year, it has helped knowing what pitchers are going to do," he said of his second season. "But the most important thing is to get your pitches and not miss them."
Cotuit opened July with a 9-0 win over Wareham in which they got to the Gatemen for 14 hits. Nathan Culp (Missouri) held Wareham to just two hits in six innings of work to pick up the win. The Gatemen gave the Kettleers a little help by committing six errors.
Cotuit scored five times in the third, added three in the sixth, and topped it off with a home run in the ninth off the bat of catcher Devin Thomas (Brown) who finished the day 4-for-4 at the plate. Emeel Salem (Alabama) and Harris were each 2-for-6 while Brad Boyer (Arizona) and Sean Gaston (Notre Dame) were each 2-for-5.
Gaston has also been hot at the plate and is no stranger to wood bats. Last summer he played in the Northwoods League for the Waterloo Bucks. "It helped a lot," Gaston said of his chance to swing a wood bat last summer. "The biggest thing was mentally. With wood, you’re going to hit some balls hard and they’re not going to go as far and you have to get use to it. I’m more aggressive this year (with the wood bat), and it has helped a lot. If the first pitch is in there, go after it."
Saturday, the Kettleers took a 2-1 contest from Harwich in 10 innings. Josh Johnson (Mississippi State) got the win in relief. Derik Olvey (Notre Dame) started the game and went five innings allowing just one hit and striking out six before turning it over to Johnson. Chris Toneguzzi (Perdue) closed out the game picking up his second save.
Cotuit scored in the top of the first when Gaston drove in Boyer; then the Kettleer pitching held the Mariners scoreless until the bottom of the eighth when they tied the score.
It remained tied until the 10th when Salem bunted Mike Hollander (LSU) home with the winning run.
The Kettleers launched some early fireworks Sunday with a 10-3 win over Brewster. After the Whitecaps slipped out to a 3-0 lead JP Padron (LSU) caught a low and inside fastball and drove it over the left field fence. "It was a two-strike pitch," he explained of his two-RBI shot. "I was protecting the plate."
Harris followed in the fifth inning going deep over the left field fence as well for two more Cotuit runs. They added two more in the seventh and four in the eighth.
Harris finished the day 4-for-5 with four RBIs. Jason Donald (Arizona) was the DH in his first Cape League appearance going 2-for-3 with two runs scored. Salem, Boyer, and Shane Jordan (Stetson) all joined the hit parade.
Clay Dirks (LSU) earned his second win in 7.2 innings of work and Toneguzzi closed it out for his third save.
Jordan has a half-dozen stolen bases this summer for the Kettleers and will probably have many more before August. His speed on the bases fits Cotuit’s style and his experience with wood bats has helped him to reach base. "Coach (Mike) Roberts likes to run, and until lately we’ve pretty much had the green light to run and you run a lot better on the green light," Jordan explained. Last summer Jordan played for Luray Wranglers of the Valley League. He set team records in games played (50), at bats (189) and runs scored (34). He is second all-time for the Wranglers in walks with 28, steals with 18 and tied for second in hits with 44.
A three-run first inning was all the Falmouth Commodores needed to get past the Kettleers on Monday in a 7-2 victory. Cotuit scored a run in the seventh, but Falmouth came back with one in the bottom of the frame and added another in the seventh.
The Kettleers got their first run on a sacrifice fly by Harris that scored Salem, and in the eighth Harris scored on a base hit by Donald.
Tuesday, Wareham posted eight runs as they handed the Kettleers an 8-0 loss leaving Cotuit tied for second place with the Gatemen one game behind West leading Bourne.
Daniel Moskos (Clemson) got the start for the Kettleers and pitched four solid innings allowing one run on four hits before turning it over to the bullpen. Taylor Parker (Missouri) came on in the fifth, giving up three runs on three hits, including a home run to Lance Salsgiver (Harvard) in one-plus inning of work. Tim Ladd (Georgia Tech) took over in the sixth pitching two innings and allowing four more runs on five hits before the game was called on account of darkness.
In spite of the loss, Boyer had an outstanding day at the plate going 3-for-3 that included a third inning double to right centerfield.
The Kettlers are back on the field today at Bourne’s Coady Field at 4:45 PM where they will be looking for a share of first place in the West. Culp is expected to take the mound for Cotuit. A left-hander out of Missouri, Culp is second in the league in ERA at 0.55.