Written by Edward F. Maroney
Was it the spanking breeze blowing across Cotuitís Lowell Park that lifted the home teamís spirits July 8, or was it a combination of strong pitching and hitting?
Either way, the Kettleers stayed cool and notched their first Barnstable Patriot Cup series victory of the season, a 5-2 win over the visiting Hyannis Mets.
The Mets led the intra-town competition 2-0 at the gameís outset and were also at the top of the Cape Cod Baseball League Western Division. Offering an unfriendly welcome was third-place Cotuitís ace and former temporary player, lefthander Nick Hernandez (3-1, 1.54 ERA before the National Anthem was sung).
Hernandez kept the visitors guessing with his varied deliveries over seven innings, notching eight strikeouts and issuing only one walk. He kept the Mets off the board until the fifth, when they put together a patchwork run.
It began with Ryan Eden making it to first when Cotuit second baseman Jason Kipnis knocked down his hit but couldnít field it. This was the inning in which Hernandez punched his one ďget-on-base-freeĒ ticket, for Casey Frawley, on four straight balls, moving Eden to second. Eden ran home when designated hitter Trent Ashcraft stroked a ball toward left field that shortstop Michael Gilmartin bobbled.
Up to that point, Hernandez had the luxury of a 3-0 lead delivered by his mates in the second inning.
Hyannis righthander Drew Muren (1-0, 0.00 ERA at the outset) retired the first five men he faced before Dallas Poulk caught the Lowell Park breeze with a power double to right that rolled to the fence. Joey Lewis nailed a single to dead center that plated Poulk (who dived in even though he didnít have to).
Muren walked Brett Jackson and dueled with Jeff Schaus, just missing the strike zone, before Schaus hit a high-climbing double to left field that looked lazy but picked up speed on its way down. Joey Gonzales gave it a good run but couldnít catch up. Meanwhile, Lewis and Jackson were running, too, and they scored to make it 3-0 for Cotuit.
Would Muren be yanked? Heck, no. The Hyannis starter put in four more innings and faced only 13 batters. At the start of the seventh, he was replaced by Ashur Tolliver (2-0, 2.70 ERA), who struck out the first man he faced.
Then, as the breeze stirred again, Lewis reached on an error, Jackson whacked a single to right and Schaus poked a hit to left field. With the bases loaded, Kipnis rapped out a sharp single to right that gave Lewis and Jackson their second crossing of home plate.
Like the Monty Python character who tells the undertaker, ďIím not dead,Ē even though he pretty much is, the Mets had one more statement to make. Chris Dominguez, who cracked a solo homer to left off reliever Danny Meszaros in the eighth, delivered it in grand style.
The Mets will face the Kettleers again July 13 at 7 p.m. under the lights at McKeon Field in Hyannis. You wonít need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.