Mike Roberts has accomplished many things during his tenure as Cotuit manager, but there was one thing he had yet to do in the burgundy pinstripes: win a title in front of the home fans at Lowell Park.
There were moments late in the Kettleers’ 10-3 win against Harwich that the longtime skipper caught himself looking up into the wooden stands to the crowd growing louder with excitement. He sensed the moment and knew it doesn’t come often.
“I never look around the stands, but I did today because I thought it was something I might not ever see again,” Roberts said.
When shortstop Adam Oviedo snagged a line drive up the middle and his momentum carried him over to second base to double off the Mariners base runner, every player in a Kettleers uniform made a mad dash towards the pitcher’s mound in celebration.
The persistent buzz of the home crowd clapping and cheering provided the soundtrack and the park carved out of a forest in the tiny village of Cotuit provided the picture perfect backdrop.
“I don’t know what you say about a crowd like this in a little Norman Rockwell ball park,” Roberts opined after basking in the glory of the franchise’s 17th Mycock trophy. “When you’re playing in front of this sort of crowd it’s almost fairy tale-ish.”
He’ll look back on this season with fondness, no doubt. He managed the league’s most valuable player. He mentored to Cape natives who grew up attending Kettleers games, hunting for foul balls and chasing autographs. And he turned a .500 regular season team into a playoff juggernaut, winning six straight—including a span of 24 innings played in 24 hours. But what Roberts may hold onto the most this season was a moment spent in solitude.
It was approximately 6 AM at Lowell Park and Roberts could be spotted sitting atop the highest bench of the third-base bleachers watching the sunrise. He was reflecting on the season, thinking about his team’s impending Cape League finals game, and he was praying.
He was praying for his late wife, Nancy, who passed away three years ago, first and foremost. Roberts then turned his attention to his daughter, who had just flown to the Cape to celebrate what they hoped would be a joyous occasion. And, he prayed for a win at Lowell Park.
Maybe it was fate. Maybe it was a feeling of delirium after not sleeping following his team’s five-hour, 15-inning affair the night before. But whatever it was, Roberts prayers were answered roughly 12 hours later—reaching the Cape League’s pinnacle in exactly the same way the team operated all year long.
They pounded the ball.
Cotuit scored the second-most runs, home runs and doubles, the most triples and most extra-base hits in the regular season. They drove in more runs and totaled more bases than any other team in the 44-game stretch. In the playoffs those trends continued. The Kettleers scored 60 runs in the playoffs, 36 more runs than the next closest team. Their 85 hits was 40 more the second-best team. And their 56 runs batted in is more than the total runs scored by five of the other seven playoff teams.
That sort of in-game consistency stems from maintaining a regular pregame routine. Players had the option of catching up on some sleep after their 15-inning Game 1 win the day prior. But, as Roberts outlined, they didn’t want to stop what was working for them.
“They said, ‘let’s go back and practice like we always do,’ ” Roberts recalled. “They didn’t back off at all.”
And the results spoke for themselves. If the solo blasts in the bottom of the first inning from Casey Schmitt and Matthew Mervis set the tone for how the day would play out for the home faithful, the six-run fifth inning sparked an early start to the championship party. Cotuit produced five straight run-producing singles—each one more methodical than the last, sending three through the hole at first base. One of those hits came from Cotuit native Cody Pasic, who signed on as a temporary player only to earn an all-star nomination and helping his hometown team capture its 17th CCBL crown.
“It’s a dream come true,” said Pasic, who broke away from taking photos with his grandmother to speak with the press. “I don’t think you can script it any better than that.”