Written by Kathleen Szmit
It was a high-stakes, tension-filled game when Cotuit hosted cross-town rival Hyannis yesterday morning for Game 6 of the Barnstable Patriot Cup.
Kathleen Szmit photos
THE WINNERS – While Barnstable Patriot publisher Rob Sennott applauds in approval, the Cotuit Kettleers celebrate their 2008 Patriot Cup victory. The team defeated the Hyannis Mets 3-1 and won the tournament in a tiebreak.
After nine intense innings, Cotuit emerged the victor with a score of 3-1. After winning the tiebreak, the Kettleers claimed the 2008 Cup and the coveted No. 1 seed in the Western Division.
Following the trophy presentation, an emotional Mike Roberts, head coach of the Kettleers, offered thanks on behalf of his team, lauding their hard work and congratulating them on their success.
Roberts also praised first-year Hyannis coach Rick Robinson for his efforts this season, acknowledging the “important rivalry” between the two teams.
And what a rivalry it was.
Coming at the tail end of a heated, roller-coaster season that saw several teams bounce in and out of first place, Cotuit and Hyannis headed into Game 6 of the Patriot cup with both teams on edge.
In spite of the 11 a.m. game time, the stands were packed with energetic fans from both teams.
Locked into the Western Division standings mess, both teams were determined to win not only the trophy, but also the game – playoff points were on the line.
Heading into the game Cotuit was in the top spot with 46 points. Hyannis had 44, followed by Falmouth and Bourne with 45, for a three-way tie based on the teams’ win/loss ratios.
Kathleen Szmit Photo
NT – Brett Jackson of the Cotuit Kettleers offers some pre-game prep to bat boy Cody Pasic on Aug. 7. before the final Barnstable Patriot Cup game. The eye black must have helped, because Cotuit won the game 3-1, won the Cup via tiebreak, and clinched the top spot in the Western Division.
Hyannis, desperately seeking a spot in the playoffs, started off well, with Marcus Jones hitting a double. After Cotuit pitcher Seth Blair intentionally walked Chris Dominguez, Hyannis had two men on and two outs. Both were left stranded, however, when Cotuit’s Brett Jackson caught Curt Casali’s fly to end the inning.
In the second, a questionable call from umpire Harry Greer brought an agitated Roberts from the dugout. As Hyannis’ Ryan Eden stole second, it appeared that a tag by Cotuit’s Jason Kipnis was in time, but Greer said otherwise. While Roberts was issued a warning, he settled down and was not ejected.
Cotuit hit the boards in the third when Michael Gilmartin smacked a single, scoring Kevin Patterson from second to give the Kettleers the lead.
The Mets threatened in the fourth, with Casey Frawley and Dale Cornstubble on first and third with one out, but were again stranded when Matt Nuzzo’s grounder was thwarted by Cotuit’s quick defense during a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play.
Hyannis pitcher Will Weidig responded by quickly, retiring the side during Cotuit’s half of the inning. He struck Gilmartin, then Evan Crawford, out and forced a fly out from Dallas Poulk.
Kettleer Robert Stock was the driving force in the fifth, when his single brought in Jeff Kobernus for Cotuit’s second run of the game. Meanwhile, Blair retired the Hyannis side 1-2-3.
The Mets seemed on the verge of a rally in the sixth. Dominguez clocked a double to the far left corner and was joined at base moments later by Eden, who was hit by a pitch.
With two men on and one out, Hyannis was in position to bring in their first run but was stunned again by Cotuit’s pitching prowess. Out number two came on a fly from Dale Cornstubble, with Frawley striking out for the third.
Cotuit extended its lead in the seventh when Stock crossed the plate on a two-out single from Gilmartin, making it 3-0.
With time running out, Hyannis made a last attempt in the ninth, plating one run when Trent Ashcraft made it home on a fielder’s choice by Paulsen. A spectacular catch and subsequent throw to first by Poulk on a Dominguez hit ended the game, clinching the win for Cotuit.
Roberts was pleased that the fans were able to share in the team’s success.
“The volunteer staff gives so much. I think the playoffs could be really important to a community and what I call the Kettleer family,” said Roberts. “They’re here all year round, doing a phenomenal amount of work.”
Roberts said his emotions ran high because of overwhelming pride in his players.
“The most important impact of summer baseball is to get players to mature as a person, as a leader, as a player,” he said. “If I don’t see that then I feel like I’ve failed them as a coach.”
Roberts said that earlier in the season he was worried. “I wasn’t seeing much of that,” he said.
Then something changed with the team.
“All of a sudden they began to play as a team,” he said. “That last play of the game is absolutely our season. That’s a play Dallas [Poulk] wouldn’t have made before but he’s just matured so much as a player.”
At press time the team was set to play their final regular season game against the Y-D Red Sox. As the No. 1 seed Cotuit will host the playoff opener at 3 p.m. on Saturday, with their opponent to be determined.