In the biggest spot of the season the Cotuit Kettleers had the MVP at the plate. Trailing 3-2, with a man on first in the bottom of the seventh inning, Nick Gonzales (New Mexico State) figured that Falmouth reliever Logan Hofmann (Northwestern State) would give him something to hit. Hofmann put a fastball down the middle and the Most Valuable Player of 2019 put his team ahead.
Gonzales blasted a long fly ball to center field that cleared the wall with room to spare. That put Cotuit ahead for the first time all day. They rode that shot to a 5-3 victory and a spot in the Cape Cod Baseball League championship series for the first time since 2013.
“I was looking just to make hard contact with something. I knew he had a good off-speed with his slider, so I was just looking to see something up and let my hands do the work and fortunately I got something good to hit,” Gonzales said. “It felt good. The guys have been working their butts off all summer and to help them out like that and to hear the crowd and the fans go crazy was awesome.”
Cotuit manager Mike Roberts said that the situation worked out perfectly for his team, which overcame a 3-0 deficit in the first inning to get over the top.
“(Gonzales) was up there at the right time... that young man has polished his skills really well, and I’m just so pleased for him,” Roberts said.
Parker Chavers (Coastal Carolina) tacked on to the lead in the bottom of the eighth with a solo home run down the right field line that gave the Kettleers a two-run cushion.
The Dores tried to get a rally going in the top of the ninth against the Kettleers’ hard-throwing closer Kyle Nicolas (Ball State). Two-year star Hayden Cantrelle (Louisiana Lafayette) smoked a one-out double down the right field line to give the visiting fans some hope. After Blake Dunn (Western Michigan) broke his bat on a line out to second, Falmouth got the tying run aboard with Zach Deloach (Texas A&M) working a walk. Trei Cruz (Rice) hoped to extend the season even further, but he flew out to right to end the game, and his team’s season.
Roberts said that it was huge for Nicolas, and the team, to have a two-run lead going to the top of the ninth.
“No matter who your closer is, when you get a two-run cushion opposed to a one, you’ve got margin for error,” Roberts said. “He needed that margin for error. Nicolas closed it for us, and I’ve been waiting all year for Kyle Nicolas to be in that kind of situation, and he came through.”
Early on it looked like the Commodores were in great position to extend the series and get it back to Falmouth for a decisive third game. The Dores chased Cotuit starter Jackson Wolf (West Virginia) from the game after he faced just six batters, recording one out.
Cantrelle hit the second pitch of the game to left for a hit and then Dunn walked before Deloach singled to load the bases. Wolf got Cruz to pop out, but then Jackson Coutts (Rhode Island) walked to plate the first run of the game. Troy Claunch (Oregon State) kept the train moving by ripping an RBI-single to right to make it 2-0, chasing Wolf out of the contest.
Local boy Chris Holcomb (Tulane) of Marstons Mills then came on to settle things down for the Kettleers. The victory’s unsung hero gave up an RBI fielder’s choice to Austin Langworthy (Florida) before ending the inning with a fly out to right.
From that point forward the Cotuit relief staff stole the show. Falmouth had a chance in the fourth to open it up against Holcomb, but came up empty-handed despite loading the bases with one out and the top of the lineup coming to the plate. Holcomb struck out Cantrelle and then his center fielder, Donta Williams (Arizona), made the play of the day by robbing Dunn with a diving grab in center field that prevented at least two Falmouth runs from scoring.
The Kettleers had already cut into Falmouth’s lead with a run in the second, on an RBI-groundout. In the fifth they made it 3-2 as Gonzales doubled and scored on a double by Casey Schmitt (San Diego State). Falmouth starter Chris Gonzalez (Stetson) escaped further damage by getting a fly out to center to end that inning, and his afternoon. Gonzalez pitched well, allowing two runs on five hits over five frames.
“He was outstanding. He just really, really pitched. He has to locate to be effective, and he did that and he changed speeds and got his breaking ball over and just competed his butt off,” Falmouth skipper Jeff Trundy said. “As good as that outing was, he’s an even better kid. We had so many kids that were just great teammates, and he’s an example of that.”
Game One Win
Trey Holland (University of the South) picked a pretty great time to have his best showing of the season for the Kettleers. The late arrival to the Cape, who had made just three appearances and two starts this summer for Cotuit, had Falmouth off-balance for all six innings he worked as he and reliever Bo Hofstra (Purdue) combined to shut out the Commodores, 5-0, in the first game of the West Division finals.
Holland struck out five, scattered four hits and walked two over six shutout frames. Hofstra had two Ks and gave up two hits over the final three innings.
With the Cotuit offense giving Holland a comfortable cushion in the second inning, the Kettleers rolled to their third-straight playoff win and moved within a victory of advancing to the Cape League finals for the first time since 2013. The Kettleers topped Orleans in two games that year for the championship.
Game 2 of the series was scheduled to be played on Tuesday but was postponed to Wednesday, due to inclement weather.
Sending eight men to the plate in the second inning against Falmouth starter Justin Wrobleski (Clemson), the Kettleers were able to plate three runs and take control of the game. The inning saw the Kettleers take advantage of a bad-hop single, which was originally ruled an error on Cruz at shortstop, and a wild pitch by Wrobleski that brought a run home for the visitors.
Schmitt kick-started the inning by leading off the frame with a sharp single to right field on a 3-2 pitch. Coltyn Kessler (Kentucky) then singled. A balk by Wrobleski put both runners in scoring position for Chavers
Chavers hit a ball that nearly resulted in the first out of the inning, but a sharp bounce ate up Cruz and skipped off the heel of his glove into the outfield to make it 1-0. Adam Oviedo (TCU) then lifted a fly ball to left to score Kessler and make it a 2-0 game.
With Gonzales at the plate, Wrobleski bounced one to the backstop. That brought Williams, who had reached on a fielder’s choice, to the dish for the third Kettleer run of the inning.
Cotuit increased the lead to four in the third with a clutch single from Oviedo. With two on and two out, he singled to right-center to make it 4-0. An RBI single from Gonzales in the sixth inning accounted for the other run by the Kettleers.
Meanwhile the Falmouth offense could gain no traction. The Dores had two on with two out in the bottom of the first, but failed to get a run in. After that they were unable to get a runner as far as second base again until the bottom of the ninth, with two outs.