Cotuit Wins It

The Cotuit Kettleers show off their championship hardware.


 
When Cotuit opened the 2013 Cape Cod Baseball League season against Orleans on June 12, Caleb Bryson was in Lima, Ohio, going 1-for-3 for the Hamilton Joes in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League. Garrett Stubbs was not far away from Cotuit, in Plymouth, going 1-for-4 for the NECBL’s Plymouth Pilgrims against the Ocean State Waves. Austin Byler was rehabbing an injury in Nevada. Jake Fincher and Logan Ratledge were on their way to Omaha. Stanford teammates Drew Jackson and Danny Diekroeger hadn’t suited up yet. Mark Payton was weighing his options after just getting drafted in the 16th round. Rhett Wiseman had just finished his season with Vanderbilt. Evan Beal was one day removed from South Carolina’s heart-breaking Super Regional loss to North Carolina. Wesley Cox and Dalton Potts were playing for the Front Royal Cardinals in the Valley League. Bradley Zimmer was in a Cotuit uniform, but he knew he’d soon be packing his bags for a summer with Team USA.

On August 15, they were all on a Cape Cod field together.

And they were celebrating.

Cotuit’s remarkable season of near-constant change ended with a Cape Cod Baseball League championship. If the Kettleers are getting rings, they’re going to need quite a few. Fifty-one players donned a Cotuit uniform this summer. Every week, they lost somebody. Every week, they gained somebody. Somehow, they were one of the league’s best teams while they rode the roster roller-coaster. Whoever was on the field – whoever wasn’t – the Kettleers found a way to play winning baseball more often than not.

They did it one last time Thursday night.

Cotuit completed a championship sweep of Orleans with a 6-1 victory at Eldredge Park, capturing its second Cape League title in four years.

It was clinched on the strength of a championship-worthy all around performance. Christian Cecilio (San Francisco) went six scoreless innings, turning in his best start of the year when Cotuit needed it most. The offense took an early lead, putting the pressure on, and pulled away late. The defense didn’t make an error. And the Kettleers had to feel like they were living right when Pat Quinn’s would-be grand slam in the seventh inning went just foul.

Cecilio allowed just four hits. Brian Miller (Vanderbilt) pitched a third of an inning and gave up three hits. He’d shut down Orleans’ comeback attempts the night before, but manager Mike Roberts didn’t hesitate to pull him. Wesley Cox (Texas San Antonio) came in, got out of a bases-loaded jam and then finished the job.

The trio held Orleans to one run, just the second time the Firebirds have scored one run since July 17.

And the pitchers had support. Facing Jared Miller (Vanderbilt), who had been fantastic late in the season, the Cotuit offense scratched and clawed. Danny Diekroeger (Stanford) knocked in a run in the third on an infield single for the 1-0 lead. The Kettleers then went two innings without a hit before another infield single, this one by Drew Jackson (Stanford), scored the second run.

Orleans had designs on a comeback, but came up empty on the bases-loaded chance in the seventh. In the next half-inning, Cotuit blew the doors off with four more runs, despite the fact that Orleans went to dominant closer Matt Troupe (Arizona) when it got into trouble. A squeeze, an error and a two-run single by Nolan Clark (Concordia) made it 6-0.

The Firebirds scored a run in the ninth but Cox finished the game by inducing a ground-out.

Cotuit celebrated.

Cape League champions often have a signature, a brand that defines their seasons or their playoff runs. For Wareham in 2012, it was late-inning magic and overwhelming power. For Y-D’s mini-dynasty from 2004 to 2007, it was terrific talent buying into a winning culture.

This Cotuit team won in many different ways, with many different people. When they lost talent, they brought in talent. When they took the field with newcomers all over the place, it didn’t matter. It turned into a positive. The Kettleers rode players who were thrilled to get a chance in the Cape League.

Their signature is their lack of signature, their ability to play good baseball – and the organization’s ability to build a good baseball team – no matter what.

On a given day, the Kettleers found a way to win that day’s game.

On August 15, with a team that was scattered across the country two months before – and with a whole other team’s worth of former players watching and rooting from Georgia and Texas and California and the New York Penn League – they won a very big one.

 

15 Comments

  1. Was R. Wiseman a DNP because of coach’s decision?

  2. Orville from Orleans says:

    Excellent article. Your lead was terrific.

    And so concludes another season of great coverage by RFF. Thank you. Your fans appreciate all your hard work.

  3. Will Geoghegan says:

    Orville – Thanks. I appreciate it. And thanks for reading and commenting.

    EMS – I’m not sure but that’s what I gathered from Twitter

  4. Steve Groppi says:

    Will,

    Thanks for another great summer of Cape Cod league daily updates and preseason write ups. Your facts and research are excellent, and your daily updates and preseason write-ups have become a part of my cape cod league experience through the years! I hope you will continue writing these updates in the future, you are a great writer and I read you every morning! Thanks for all the work you do on this website daily, it’s going be a long winter without it and the league! Can’t wait to read more next season! Thanks again for being a part of another amazing Cape league summer! See you next year!

  5. Will Geoghegan says:

    Thanks, Steve! Much appreciated. See you next year!

  6. Steve Groppi says:

    It is amazing how many good players Cotuit was able to add so late in the season to replace the stars that left! Byler, Cox, Bryson, Roberts, Stubbs, and Payton all were key contributors in the playoffs. Hats off to the Cotuit GM and front office! This team lost Mike Ford, Chris Ellis, Alex Gaines, Pat Corbett, Yale Rosen, Dusty Isaacs and still won the Championship! Also, Bradley Zimmer decision to come back shows this guys commitment to Cotuit! I thought the Falmouth Cotuit series was great, I think these were the best teams talent wise and it was a great series to watch. I loved watching Falmouth this summer with all their hitters! What a lineup, but their pitching failed them. Chatham, was a disappointment in the playoffs, but they were not playing well at the end of the season. Cotuit, never gave up and always seemed to pull out a win when they needed to. I saw both walk off games against Falmouth and Orleans which seemed to ignite this team! Great season and congratulations Cotuit, you deserve it!

  7. Kevin Griener says:

    hey Will, any idea about the attendance of that game? that place was packed silly.

  8. Susan Simon says:

    I find it interesting that in both the final game in Falmouth series and in last game with Orleans, Christian Cecilio was so underrated, as he had been all season. I guess if you don’t come from a powerhouse school it really counts against you, but all season he was 65%-75% strike count and getting good hitters out with his nasty stuff. I know I’m prejudiced in his favor, but he seemed to be reliable and strengthening all season. Total this year about 124 innings pitched and staying healthy–endurance and efficiency getting folks out with grounders and pop ups may not be flashy but gets the job done. Hopefully some people out there noticed.

    Thanks for your insightful blog.

  9. Will Geoghegan says:

    Kevin – It was listed in the box score at 1,888. Seems low.

    Susan – Agreed. He had one bad outing. Take it away, and his regular season ERA was 1.50. Would have been third in the league. Very underrated.

  10. Orville from Orleans says:

    It’s time to talk about awards.

    The All-League team is out and there’s really not much to talk about there. So many players are chosen that it’s rare for anybody deserving to be left out, though I guess I was a little surprised that Skyler Ewing didn’t make the team in some capacity.

    Here’s the one that I’d like to discuss:

    Which of the following pitchers do you think won the Outstanding Relief Pitcher award?

    Pitcher A: 16 appearances, 2-1 record, 10 saves, 19.1 innings, 15 hits, 7 walks, 21 strikeouts, 3.26 ERA.
    Pitcher B: 17 appearances, 1-1 record, 11 saves, 20.0 innings, 11 hits, 7 walks, 32 strikeouts, 1.35 ERA.

    If you guessed Pitcher A (Eric Eck), you’d be right, but the only reason you’d guess Pitcher A is because I chose this particular award to focus on. Pitcher B (Matt Troupe) was thrown a bone with the 10th Player Award, which I don’t even understand. Is it for the best non-starting player? Why not give Troupe the Outstanding Relief Pitcher Award, which he clearly deserved, and give Eck the 10th Player Award? Or why even have a 10th Player Award? I can understand a 6th Player Award in basketball, but this isn’t basketball.

    Any other injustices anybody would care to point out?

  11. Orville from Orleans says:

    I went back and re-examined the All-League team, and there are a few interesting things to note. Has a championship team ever had as few All-League players as the 2013 Cotuit team (one)? Given that the Kettleers were shuffling all season, even the one that made it (Rhett Wiseman) may have been a gift. I would argue that Mike Ford would have been a better selection, even though he left so early. Dylan Davis could have been put in the outfield and then Ford could have been given Davis’s DH slot. It’s strange to see one team (Falmouth) supply two DHs (Kevin Cron and Davis).

    Also not a fan of the Clinton Freeman selection — no power, no speed, and no walks. Brewster’s Scott Heineman would have been a better selection, or Freeman’s outfield slot could have gone to Davis and any number of players could have been given Davis’s DH slot (if not Ford, then perhaps Harwich’s Ian Happ?).

    On the pitching side, I’m surprised not to see Jaron Long on the team. I would contend that Long, even if he did leave early, was more deserving than his teammate Ryan Kellogg. And don’t even get me started on Eric Eck.

  12. Orville,

    Yeah, Troupe not getting the Outstanding Relief Pitcher was silly, as he was CLEARLY the best reliever out there, Eck a distant #2. Apparently there is some kind of formula that they use to decide who gets that award. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but they need to tweak it, that’s for sure.

  13. Orville from Orleans says:

    I wonder if it’s two points for a relief win and one point for a save, which is how the Rolaid’s Fireman of the Year used to work in the Major Leagues.

  14. Orville from Orleans says:

    Here’s how Rolaid’s does it (according to Wikipedia): Each save is worth three points; each win is worth two points; and each loss is worth negative two points. Beginning with the 1987 MLB season, negative two points have been given for blown saves. In the 2000 MLB season, the term “tough save,” which is worth an additional point, was introduced by Rolaids. A “tough save” happens when a relief pitcher enters the game already having the potential tying run on base, and gets the save. The player with the highest point total wins the award.

  15. Will Geoghegan says:

    I’ve seen the Cape League Statistician on Twitter reference the Rolaids Formula, so I’m guessing that’s what they use. I can understand the need for a formula, but a case like Troupe vs. Eck raises the need for some subjective analysis.

    And great question on Cotuit’s few all-league picks. I’ve got to think that’s the lowest for a champion.

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