Written by Kathleen Szmit
Barnstable Patriot Cup games between the Cotuit Kettleers and the Hyannis Mets are always exciting, with fans eager to see which team will emerge the victor.
Kathleen Szmit photos
READY, AIM… – Major League Baseball scouts keep tabs on various players’ pitching speeds during Game One of The Barnstable Patriot Cup at McKeon Field in Hyannis on Sunday. Hyannis won the opener 4-3.
This season’s tourney opener, however, was downright dramatic. There were hits, runs, errors, minor injury and even some (mostly) good-natured heckling.
After the game was rained out in Cotuit last week, the Patriot Cup playoffs officially began Sunday night under somewhat ominous skies following a brief but powerful line of thundershowers earlier in the evening.
At 7 p.m., though, the game began at McKeon Field without any interference from the weather.
Colin Bates took the mound for Hyannis to start what ultimately became a thrilling 4-3 win for the home team.
Bates made quick work of Cotuit’s Jason Kipnis and Mike Bianucci but allowed a hit to Kevin Patterson, who singled to right. Patterson, though, was caught stealing, resulting in the Kettleers’ third out.
Cotuit pitcher Paul Applebee started out strong, striking out Hyannis’ Joey Gonzales looking and Ryan Eden swinging.
Ben Paulson, however, was able to connect, singling up the middle to reach base. Then Hyannis’ heavy-hitting Chris Dominguez clocked a beautiful double to left center, kicking off the scoring for the home team by bringing Paulson in for a first run. Hyannis 1, Cotuit 0.
Cotuit answered back in the second when Evan Crawford hit a sweet double to right centerfield, bringing in Dan Black to even the score at 1-1.
A wild fifth inning saw Hyannis score again, while Applebee seemed to unravel. After Hyannis’ Trent Ashcraft reached first on a single, Applebee threw to first at least seven times in a row in an apparent attempt to prevent Ashcraft from stealing.
With each throw fans grew more restless, with one finally calling out, “It’s getting to be past my bedtime!”
After more than 12 throws to first, Applebee resumed pitching, only to have Eden at the plate double to left and bring in Ashcraft for Hyannis’ second run of the game.
After Eden stole third, Applebee made his departure from the game. Drew Storen stepped in and quickly forced Dominguez to fly out to end the inning.
With Cotuit at-bat in the sixth, southpaw Ashur Tolliver came in for Hyannis.
There was a collective gasp from the crowd when an errant pitch from Tolliver clipped Bianucci in the shin, forcing him from the game and bringing in Brett Jackson to pinch run.
The turn of events seemed to rattle Tolliver a bit and the Kettleers capitalized on the change in momentum. Patterson reached base on a fielder’s choice, followed by a double from Jeff Kobernus that brought in Jackson to tie the score yet again, 2-2.
Although Kobernus’ hit brought an RBI for Cotuit, Hyannis’ defense turned in a pretty play on their part to tag Kobernus out with throws from right fielder Eden to shortstop Frawley, to catcher Casali, and finally to second baseman Matt Nuzzo.
Moments later Casali made another beautiful throw to Dominguez at third to pick off Patterson mid-steal.
Hyannis returned to the plate in their half of the sixth to earn two more runs, one when a broken-bat double by Casey Frawley brought in Curt Casali and the other when Frawley scored on a single to center from Ashcraft to give Hyannis a solid two-run lead.
Cotuit’s Evan Crawford crossed the plate in the seventh for the Kettlers’ third run, but that’s as close as Hyannis would allow their cross-town rivals to come.
Russ Brewer stepped in to close for Hyannis in the ninth and earned his sixth save of the season with a scoreless inning that left one man on base for Cotuit while closing the books on a 4-3 win for Hyannis.
With the victory Hyannis inched even closer to Cotuit, trailing only two points behind the Kettleers in the battle for the Western Division Lead.
Tolliver earned the win for Hyannis, allowing three hits and two runs from Cotuit, fanning four in three innings of work, while teammate Brewer maintained his place as league-leader with six saves this season.
Storen, who suffered the loss for Cotuit, struck out two while allowing three hits and two runs (earned).
At bat Eden led Hyannis going 3-for-4 with an RBI. Ashcraft went 3-for-3 with one RBI, one run scored, and a stolen base.
Crawford led Cotuit with two hits, one run scored and an RBI.
The teams will face each other for Game Two in the Patriot Cup series on July 6 at 5 p.m. at Cotuit’s Lowell Park.