While the opening games across the league on Friday lacked much drama, Saturday's second day of games in the West made up for it. What a day of baseball! The quality of play was very good, there was excitement in the stands, a lot of emotion on the field, and tempers flared a few times. COTUIT 4 - FALMOUTH 3. First stop of the day was at sun-splashed, windy Lowell Park where Cotuit's three-run rally with two out earned the hosts a 4-3 victory that closed the book on Falmouth's season. Cotuit's Brady Rodgers (Arizona State) hooked up with Falmouth's Scott Weismann (Clemson, by way of Acton-Boxboro HS) and, although neither starter factored in the decision, both pitched well enough to keep their team in the game.
Cotuit touched Weismann for a run in the fifth when Joey Hainsfurther lead off with a single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Zach Cone, and scored when James McCann ripped a basehit to left.
Falmouth didn't waste any time knotting the score. KC Serna lead off the sixth with a single. After Rodgers walked Nick Martini and Andrew Susac, Kettleers manager Mike Roberts went to his bullpen. Vanderbilt lefthander Keenan Kolinsky was brought in to face lefty-swinging Matt Skole. Skole chopped the ball between the mound and third and when Kolinsky fielded the ball, his only play was to first as Serna scored. Roberts went to the pen again and summoned Matt Murray (Georgia Southern) who escaped further trouble when he got Chris O'Brien to pop to the catcher.
Big 12 Freshman of the Year Barrett Barnes lead off the seventh for the visitors with a wind-aided triple to the base of the fence in right-center. It looked like Murray might get out of the jam when he struckout B.A. Vollmuth and got Kyle Von Tungeln to pop to first, but Serna came through with the two-out basehit to plate Barnes and give Falmouth the lead. The Commodores added another run in the ninth when a Vollmuth single was followed by a basehit by Von Tungeln. Vollmuth was thrown out at third by leftfielder Michael Faulkner, but Von Tungeln moved to second on the throw. Once again, Serna came through with a hit to make the score 3-1 heading to the bottom of the ninth.
Hainsfurther lead off with a single and moved to second on a passed ball. Things were looking bleak for the home team when Falmouth reliever Nick Maronde got Cone to fly to center and struckout Paul Hoilman. McCann walked to put the tieing run on base. Jordan Leyland fell behind 0-2, then barely got a piece of a pitch, fouling it to the backstop. Leyland went with the next pitch and smacked a double down the line in right to score Hainsfurther and pinchrunner James Foster. Chad Wright followed with a grounder to first. Maronde was late getting over and Wright beat him to the bag. With the home crowd in a frenzy, John Hinson stepped up and drove a pitch well over a leaping Serna and into left to plate Leyland with the winning run.
Kent State's Kyle McMillen got the last two outs in the ninth to record the win.
NOTES: As the Cotuit players raced onto the field to greet Leyland after he scored the winning run, Maronde fired his glove toward the dugout. Other Falmouth players looked stunned at the events that just ended their season when it looked like they would be returning home for a deciding third game.
As mentioned earlier, a lot of emotion was shown in this game. When Roberts pulled Rodgers in the sixth, he apparently claimed Rodgers was injured. While Kolinsky took as many warmup tosses as he needed, there was some jawing from the Falmouth dugout. It seems that Commodores manager Jeff Trundy wasn't buying into the idea of Rodgers being injured. While words were being exchanged, Roberts stood near his dugout and was told repeatedly to "get back" by plate umpire Charlie Curcio.
In the bottom half of the inning, Cotuit leftfielder Michael Yastrzemski was ejected by Curcio when he showed his displeasure at a called third strike by using his bat to draw a line in the dirt a few inches off the plate.
At the conclusion of the game, the coaches lined up to shake hands while the Cotuit players danced to the music playing over the P.A. system and the Falmouth players tried to comprehend what had just happened. No words were spoken by Roberts and Trundy as they passed each other but seconds later Trundy got into it with the Cotuit assistant coaches. Roberts actually played the role of peacemaker when he pulled Scott Gurss back toward the Kettleer dugout.
Both teams played errorless ball.
Another media outlet repeatedly referred to "John Hoilman" as being one of the heroes for Cotuit. The player involved in the ninth inning rally - and the one who got the game winning hit - was John Hinson, not Paul Hoilman.
WAREHAM 3 - BOURNE 2 (11) In a game that saw many momentum swings, the host Gatemen loaded the bases with no outs in the 11th inning when LJ Mazzilli stepped to the plate and ripped a line drive over a drawn-in outfield to ensure that the Cape League will have a new champion in 2010.
There had been some guessing as to who would be the starting pitcher for Wareham in this game. Early reports indicated Jack Armstrong would get the start. Later, it seemed that Joseph Flynn might get the call. Eventually, Wareham manager Cooper Farris settled on Texas' Josh Urban. It turned out to be the right decision. Bourne manager Harvey Shapiro countered with Coastal Carolina's Anthony Meo (2-1; 3.12).
Both pitchers started strong. Meo put down the first six batters he faced. He ran into trouble in the third when John Andreoli bounced a single through the left side of the infield. With one out, Adam McClain singled, moving Andreoli to third. Andreoli scored the first run of the game when Mazzilli flied out to center.
Wareham stranded two baserunners in the fourth and fifth innings but the Gatemen got to Meo for another run in the sixth. With one out, Max Muncy doubled, moved to third on a fly out by Tony Caldwell, and scored when Meo unleashed a pitch to the backstop.
In the meantime, Urban danced in and out of some trouble but he did not look like the pitcher who came into the game with a record of 1-4 and an ERA of 5.26. Urban walked two in the second but got Josh Elander to fly to right to end that threat. Urban cruised into the fifth having retired eight in a row when Zack MacPhee and Elander singled, sandwiched around a force out, to put runners on the corners. Urban got Travis Jankowski to tap back to him, keeping the Braves scoreless. In the sixth, a Jason Coats single and a walk to Daniel Bowman had Bourne threatening again. This time, Urban induced a weak comebacker off the bat of Creede Simpson as the Braves wasted another opportunity.
Jankowski lead off the eighth with a single for Bourne. Farris went to the bullpen and brought in Jake Davies who, after throwing one pitch, picked Jankowski off first. The importance of that play was magnified when Coats singled, but Travis Shaw struckout to end the inning.
Wareham tried to put the game away in the bottom of the eighth when two singles off Braves closer Tony Zych, and an error, left the bases loaded with one out. Zych reached back and got Tyler Bream to pop to short and Andreoli to fly out to right, keeping the score 2-0.
In the ninth, with Gatemen closer Kenneth Ferrer in the game, Bourne made their move. Ferrer walked Bowman and gave up a double just inside the third base bag to Simpson. MacPhee followed with a single for the Braves first run and they had runners on the corners. Elander struckout for the first out. Mike Nemeth pinchhit for UConn teammate Nick Ahmed. Nemeth picked out the first pitch he saw and grounded a basehit over the second base bag to score Simpson, tieing the game. The Braves were threatening to take the lead with two on and one out but Ferrer settled down to get Jankowski and Tommy LaStella to ground out, stranding the runners.
There were no other threats until the fateful bottom of the eleventh. Zych, the winner of the league's Top Prospect award, had pitched three innings and his work was done for the night. Shapiro brought Villanova's Kyle McMyne (1-1; 6.46 ERA) in from the bullpen to face Wareham's 7-8-9 hitters. Things unraveled quickly for Bourne. Andreoli grounded back to McMyne who threw the ball over the head of Nemeth at first, allowing Andreoli to move to second. Derek Dennis walked on a 3-2 pitch. In an obvious bunting situation, Wareham got more than they bargained for when McClain dropped a perfectly placed bunt between the thirdbase line and the mound. McMyne fielded the ball, but had no play. With the outfield drawn in, Mazzilli took ball one and then ripped a line drive over a leaping Jankowski in centerfield. The ball rolled to the fence as Andreoli scored and the Gatemen celebrated.
NOTES: There was plenty of emotion in this game too. In the fourth, Wareham's Zach Wilson was hit by a pitch. Shapiro asked for an appeal to the thirdbase umpire to see if Wilson offered at the pitch. The umpire ruled that Wilson did not swing and Shapiro took a few steps toward him to further plead his case. The umpire loudly and animatedly told Shapiro not to take one more step toward him. Shapiro was never close to him, but he got the message that he wasn't going to get away with arguing a ball/strike issue and after some finger pointing, Shapiro made his way back to the dugout.
Midway through the game, between innings, the homeplate umpire strolled down the line to lecture a group of Bourne's interns about some "vocal improprieties." The interns were told that they would be removed from the premises if they persisted. The interns remained loud throughout the game, but there were no further confrontations with the umpires.
Bourne played a sloppy game. The Braves made 4 errors, threw 3 wild pitches, and hit two Gatemen batters. Wareham did not make an error.
Each team stranded 13 baserunners.
Nothing should surprise in the Western division. We will now have two teams with sub-.500 records playing for the right to get to the championship round. Third place Cotuit will host Wareham at 3:00 on Monday. Game 2 will be in Wareham at 7:00 on Tuesday. A third game, if necessary, would be back at Cotuit at 3:00 on Wednesday.