By Brendan Nordstrom
Sometimes Goliath just wins.
“Cotuit Kettleers” and “dominance” are two terms that are near synonymous this season. The Kettleers own an impressive 22-7 record, winning eight in a row coming into Eldredge Park. Cotuit had won the first three contests against the Orleans Firebirds, and they were looking for the sweep.
The Kettleers threw reliever Teddy Brennan for his first appearance of the summer in the eighth inning. After a lead-off walk, Brennan struck out three straight, utilizing his lethal breaking ball that dove off the table.
As center fielder Eddie King Jr. put it: “It’s tough to lay off those.”
With a 5-4 lead going into the bottom of the ninth, Cotuit kept Brennan on the mound to face shortstop Justin Rubin.
Rubin swung through strike one before hammering a no-doubt game-tying home run over the left field wall.
Jack Penney lined a single off Brennan’s glove for an infield single before a strikeout and a flyout made the game appear to be heading to extra innings.
In a game where rain threatened, Cotuit manager Mike Roberts plead for the game to be suspended for lightning, which would revert the score to the previous inning — giving the Kettleers their ninth-straight victory. The umpires huddled but decided to resume play.
Fenwick Trimble walked on five pitches. Owen Carapellotti walked on six.
This brought up King with the bases loaded.
“Being patient was my thought that at-bat,” he said.
With a 3-1 count, the pitch missed as the speedy King only needed to trot to first before the team escaped the dugout to celebrate a patient walk-off.
“It’s a good at-bat for my team. I wasn’t trying to be selfish, just wanted to get the run in any type of way,” King said. “That’s the one we really needed too, so we just got to keep it going.”
Sometimes Goliath just wins.
But not tonight.
The Firebirds (14-14) quite literally walked off the Kettleers on Sunday evening to bring down one of, if not, the most feared teams in the Cape Cod Baseball League in 6-5 fashion. The win comes on the heels of a 5-4 walk-off loss in Wareham last night.
The game began like it would be a typical Cotuit contest. Their bats had steam and their pitches only found leather.
Cotuit starter Cullen McCay threw 3.1 innings of no-hit baseball as Orleans was unable to get the ball to land. The only times the Firebirds reached in the first four frames were by way of two walks and a hit by pitch to first baseman Matt Halbach — his sixth time of the season.
But every time, Orleans could not capitalize.
On the other side of the ball, the Kettleers’ offense flashed. The team jumped on Orleans starter Jonathan Gonzalez early with a two-out rally in the second inning. A single and a throwing error put first baseman Jacob Tobias on second. Second baseman Trotter Harlan made Orleans pay, lacing an RBI double to the right field gap. Another RBI single gave Cotuit the early advantage.
They poured it on in the fifth when a lead-off error and designated hitter Caleb Lomavita’s single put runners at the corners, making way for right fielder James McCoy. Orleans left fielder Jake Casey tracked back to the wall, but McCoy’s hit sailed past the scoreboard for a silencing 5-0 lead.
The Firebirds, however, were not silenced.
Catcher Henry Hunter worked a lead-off walk — his second free pass of the evening. Then, King hit Orleans’ first hit of the evening in emphatic fashion. King put a charge into the ball, sending it soaring over the left field wall for a two-run shot.
It’s King’s first official home run of the season. He hit a two-run shot in the fog-postponed game against Chatham earlier this month as the Louisville outfielder has been heating up at the plate as of recent.
“It felt really good just to get my team started,” King said. “My mindset now is just, ‘How are pitchers going to pitch to me? How would I pitch myself?’ Now I’m starting to figure things out.”
It was then a parade for Orleans as Casey singled up the middle, second baseman Jo Oyama walked and shortstop Justin Rubin loaded the bases. Jack Penney earned two huge RBIs on a hit past the first baseman’s glove to close the gap at 5-4 with no outs.
Halbach continued the streak with a single through the right side, causing Rubin to be sent home. However, the outfield was playing in and McCoy delivered a laser home to stop the tying run from crossing. A flyout and a strikeout ended the threat to keep Cotuit ahead.
The Orleans pitching staff froze Cotuit for the final four innings as relievers Chase Hungate and Matthew Watson were instrumental in keeping them at bay and escaping jams. Casey also came up huge with a highlight reel sliding catch in foul territory.
Then, in the bottom of the ninth, the Firebirds did all they needed to do, by any means necessary, to win the game.
Orleans will return to Eldredge Park tomorrow for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch against the Brewster Whitecaps — a team the Firebirds have defeated in every contest so far this season.
“We got to keep beating Brewster,” King said. “Just don’t let them beat us at all.”