Written by Kathleen Szmit
Rumor has it that members of the Hyannis Athletic Association said recently that if the Mets only win six games this season, it better be the six played in the Barnstable Patriot Cup.
Kathleen Szmit photos
CALL HIM MR. SIMPSON – As in Homer. After smacking home run number eight, Hyannis’ Chris Dominguez is congratulated by teammate Bryce Massanari.
It looks as through Hyannis is on their way to making good on that wish. After trouncing their cross-town rival Cotuit Kettleers on Sunday night 6-1, the Mets have taken a 3-1 lead in the race for the Cup. They also hold the top spot in the Western Division.
Hyannis shined on Sunday, tallying 10 hits in the game, six of which they turned into runs. One of those included home run No. 8 for power batter Chris Dominguez, league leader with most homers.
In a scenario nearly identical to Game Two a week prior, Dominguez sent a hit over the fence minutes into the first inning. This time his homer was a solo, but it allowed the 6’5” dynamo to bring in Hyannis’s first run.
“He’s a big guy that hits it a long way,” said Mets field manager Rick Robinson.
Again, the Mets set the tone for the game by garnering two hits and one run in the first, much to the delight of the dedicated fans packing the stands.
While Hyannis was stellar Cotuit seemed unable to catch a break, suffering from a double whammy of sorts.
The day before, outfielder Mike Bianucci’s career with the Kettleers ended when he signed with the Texas Rangers. Bianucci was currently tied for second in the league in home runs and runs batted in.
Cotuit was also contending with the absence of head coach Mike Roberts, who serving a one-game suspension after two recent ejections.
Pitching woes continued to plague the men in maroon, with starter Alex Sogard allowing four of Hyannis’ six runs, the last two going to closer Brandon Cumpton.
Though Sogard did his best to quell the Mets’ momentum following Dominguez’s homer, Hyannis erupted with a three-inning third that was to be Sogard’s last pitch.
After Matt Nuzzo opened with a walk, Ryan Eden hit a left center double off Sogard to advance Nuzzo to third. A single from Trent Ashcraft brought Nuzzo home for Hyannis’ second run of the game.
Marcus Jones, who blasted a grand slam on Friday night against Y-D, was next up for Hyannis, reaching on a fielder’s choice.
While Ashcraft was tagged out by Cotuit shortstop Michael Gilmartin Eden was able to cross the plate, bringing the score to 3-0.
Jones advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt by Sogard that resulted in a throwing error, before Ben Paulsen singled left to bring in Jones, giving Hyannis a 4-point cushion.
Cotuit got two men on at the top of the fourth inning on a walk from Gilmartin before teammate Evan Crawford reached on a fielder’s choice. A throw from Hyannis’s Casey Frawley to third baseman Dominguez left them stranded.
In the fifth Will Harvil stepped in for Hyannis starter Austin Hudson, working Hyannis out of a two-on, one-out jam, striking out Brett Jackson and Jeff Kobernus to end the inning.
Relief pitchers Mario Hollands (Cotuit) and Ashur Tolliver (Hyannis) kept the game scoreless into the seventh, with Hollands allowing two hits and Tolliver three.
Hollands turned in a beautiful inning-ending double play in the sixth when he snagged a hit from Casey Frawley, immediately throwing to second baseman Jason Kipnis to oust Ben Paulsen.
Cotuit showed signs of life in the eighth when Kobernus opened the inning with a double down the right field line, followed by a single from Kevin Patterson that brought in Kobernus, putting Cotuit on the board and preventing a shutout.
Tolliver ended the inning for Cotuit, converting a hit from Gilmartin into a rapid-fire double play to Paulsen for the final out.
With Cumpton now on the mound for Cotuit, Dominguez again stepped to the plate. Though fans were hoping for another homer, Dominguez was only good for a single.
Paulsen, however, smacked a solid double to left center, with a blazing Dominguez racing around the bases to cross the plate for Hyannis’ fifth run. Frawley connected moments later with another double, bringing in Paulsen for run No. 6.
Cumpton ended the inning by striking out Nuzzo.
When Hyannis closer Russ Brewer seemed to struggle in the ninth, it looked as though Cotuit might have the chance for a rally. Brewer walked Crawford before allowing a single from Jeff Schaus, which put two men on and no outs.
Then Lewis lined into a 5-4 double play that also took out Crawford, before Dallas Poulk struck out looking, ending the game.
Harvil earned the win for Hyannis, while Sogard took the loss for Cotuit. At bat, Dominguez and Ashcraft went 2-for-4, with Paulsen going 2-for-3 and Eden 1-for-3.
For Cotuit, Kobernus and Kipnis went 2-for-4; Joey Lewis went 2-for-3, while Schaus and Kevin Patterson went 1-for-4.
Robinson was optimistically cautious about the win.
“We have half the season still left,” he said. “It makes no difference where you are at the half. It’s where you are in the end.”
Robinson attributes the teams’ recent five-game win streak to hard work and added confidence.
“They’re good players,” he said. “They’re starting to make adjustments at the plate. They’re doing a great job with their at-bats.”
Making his managerial debut in lieu of Roberts’ absence was assistant coach Scott Gurss, who acknowledged Cotuit’s struggles including Roberts’ suspension.
“You always want to have your head coach here,” he said.
Gurss noted that along with Bianucci’s departure and Roberts’ suspension, the team had played 21 nights without a break and were a bit weary.
“This team’s gone through some injuries,” he said. “It’s hard to go day in and day out 21 days straight.”
Gurss also praised his team’s perseverance. “There is some extreme talent here,” he said. “It’s a great group of guys. We’ll be all right.”
The teams have some time apart before Game Five, scheduled for July 31 at 7 p.m. in Hyannis.