By: Aodhán Doyle
BREWSTER, MA – Brewster Whitecaps coach Jamie Shevchik felt that, with the way his pitching staff had been rolling, three or four runs from the team’s offense would likely be enough for a victory.
On Friday at Stony Brook Field, however, it wasn’t, as the Whitecaps fell to the Cotuit Kettleers 12-6 in 8 innings (game called due to darkness).
Brewster jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but would fail to score again until the bottom of the sixth inning.
“This was, offensively, not really keeping our foot on the gas pedal,” said Shevchik. “We had opportunities to score runs beyond the first inning and didn’t. We just couldn’t put it away.”
Cotuit would score all twelve of their runs between the fourth and seventh innings, with six coming in the sixth.
Entering the inning trailing 4-3, Kettleers’ designated hitter Chandler Avant (Alabama) rocketed a fly ball to center field and over the head of Whitecaps’ center fielder Devin Foyle (Kansas).
The play was initially ruled a game-tying home run, but after discussing it as a crew, the umpires decided to overturn the call, awarding Avant a ground-rule double.
Despite an extensive argument from Cotuit coach Mike Roberts, the overturned call stood, but the Kettleers quickly made the controversial play old news.
Cotuit strung together five hits and seven baserunners in the inning, taking the lead on a two-run Luke Alexander (Mississippi State) single to right. The Kettleers batted around before Joe Demers (Washington) got Avant to fly out to center to end the inning after Cotuit extended their lead to 9-4.
Tony Locey (Georgia) got the start for Brewster and was stellar through his first four innings, striking out eight and allowing just one run.
Locey used a sharp breaking ball and superb command of a low-to-mid 90s fastball to keep an explosive Kettleers offense in check.
The third time through the order, however, Cotuit jumped on Locey, who left the game with no outs in the fifth after allowing seven hits, five runs (four earned), walking two and striking out nine.
“That’s on me. The loss is on me. I’ll take all the blame,” said Locey. “Four times I gave up hits on an 0-2 pitch. That just can’t happen. I’ve got to execute pitches better.”
“He pitched well. He was throwing hard and he was locating his fastball,” said Shevchik. “He made a couple bad pitches but you’re allowed to make a couple bad pitches. This wasn’t on him.”
After Foyle was hit by a pitch in the 6th, Brewster third baseman Christian Molfetta (Stanford) brought him home with a double to right, and eventually came home himself on an A.J. Graffanino (Washington) sacrifice fly, cutting Cotuit’s lead to three.
“Our biggest takeaway from this is we put up runs early in the first inning and couldn’t capitalize,” Shevchik said. “The key is when you get somebody down you put your foot on their throat and we didn’t do that.”
“We just never gave up, we fought until the end,” added Locey. “Just tough coming back from that big of a lead, but we’re going to keep fighting and we’re going to battle it out all year.”
The Whitecaps bullpen couldn’t keep the Kettleers at bay though.
Despite entering the game with a 1.93 ERA as a unit, the Brewster ‘pen allowed seven runs in just three innings.
“Just forget about today. We’re going to have more of these,” Shevchik said reassuringly. “It’s a lot of baseball games being played in a short amount of time. We’re going to have some blowups out of the bullpen.”
William Tribucher (Michigan), who succeeded Locey on the bump, surrendered two runs in just .2 innings, and DeMers allowed two runs (zero earned) to cross the plate in .1 inning.
Andy Pagnozzi (Ole Miss) was Brewster’s final reliever, allowing three runs (two earned) and two hits in his two innings of work.
“We allowed them to come back and kept them in the game. I don’t put so much on the bullpen for giving up a handful of runs,” said Shevchik. “We could have demoralized them when we had chances and we didn’t.”
Nick Dunn (Maryland) and Chandler Taylor (Alabama) each picked up an RBI for the Whitecaps, while Darius Hill (West Virginia) drove home two with a double in the first.
Leadoff man Graffanino continued his strong play for Brewster, finishing the game 3-4 with a run scored and an RBI. Graffanino raised his team-leading average to .458, which ranks third in the Cape League.
“Tomorrow is a big game and we've got to come out and forget about this and play and win tomorrow,” Shevchik added. “Tomorrow is probably the biggest game we’ve played so far.”
WHAT’S NEXT: Brewster looks to rebound on Saturday against division rival Chatham at Veterans Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.