Cotuit struggles as a team in 4-3 loss to Brewster

COTUIT, Mass. – Once the Cotuit Kettleers' team huddle broke outside the third base dugout at Lowell Park, coaches and players alike wore a dejected look across their faces following a 4-3 loss to the Brewster Whitecaps on Tuesday.

In the one-run defeat, Cotuit can chalk the game up to death by 1,000 paper cuts. There were struggles in multiple facets of the game, where just one missed opportunity could have changed the complexion of the game.

“Our pitching was good… Our defense struggled and we struggled with several areas in the defense,” Kettleers manager Mike Roberts said. “We struggled with baserunning on the line-drive double play with nobody out. So, should we have been up 3-2 going to the ninth inning? Yeah, we should have definitely been up and were down.”

Brewster earned its first run, coming in the top of the first inning as Ryder Helfrick (Arkansas) drew a favorable 3-0 count against Cotuit starting pitcher James Ellwanger (Dallas Baptist). The Whitecaps designated hitter had the green light and was all over a fastball left up in the strike zone, driving it 409 feet over the fence for a solo home run.

The Kettleers responded in the second, with Helfrick’s new Razorbacks teammate Charles Davalan (Arkansas) tagging a fastball from Ryan Ure (Oklahoma St.) for an RBI double over the head of Blake Binderup (Texas A&M) at first base to win the left-on-left matchup to set up two runners in scoring position with two outs.

However, Jarren Advincula (Cal) couldn’t come through with a go-ahead hit, stranding a pair of base runners in the frame, which the Kettleers would go on to do as well in the sixth and eighth innings. The team didn’t help itself out either in the fifth inning, when Luke Hanson (Virginia) erased a leadoff single and his advancement to second base by being doubled off on a Davalan lineout to first base.

Brewster, on the other hand, capitalized on just about every scoring chance it could manufacture.

The Whtecaps regained the lead in the top of the fifth inning as Binderup laced a two-out single to turn the lineup over. The Aggie moved into scoring position on a wild pitch in a 10-pitch battle between Nick Dumesnil (Cal Baptist) and southpaw Cade Fisher (Florida). Dumesnil won the war, going up the middle to put Brewster ahead 2-1.

The Whitecaps padded their lead in the next frame when Daniel Cuvet (Miami) introduced Andrew Behnke (Tennessee) to the Cape League, tattooing the first fastball he threw in his Kettleers debut 454 feet to center field to give Brewster a two-run cushion.

The eventual winning run for the Whitecaps scored in the top of the eighth inning, when Kaeden Kent (Texas A&M) took a trip around the bases starting with a one-out double. He took third base and scored on the same play, taking off on a wild pitch and scurrying home when a sidearm throw from Brooks Bryan (Troy) sailed wide of the bag and into left field.

“Several passed balls, throwing the ball away and double play with nobody out line drive,” Roberts said. “Now there's several areas, not one. You really have to look closely, but there were some situations that we didn't handle very well.”

The Kettleers did their best to remain in the game, receiving a jolt of energy from Max Belyeu (Texas) off the bench with his two RBI. The Team USA selection brought Cotuit within a run with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth and an RBI single in the eighth.

“It's a team game. I used every offensive player that we had today,” Roberts said. “I think that's what we ought to do in the summertime. It's a team game and somebody's got to pick you up. We just didn't quite get over the hump.”

Any chance of a ninth-inning rally dissipated when Davalan was hit by a pitch on his elbow guard in a 1-2 count, but it was ruled that he leaned into the pitch and was called out on an automatic strike.

“It's hard because I'm pretty on the plate. My hands are low, also, so I thought I kept them with me, but the umpires I guess had a different opinion,” Davalan said. “At the end of the day, it's hard because that could have been a rally, but I can't really control that and neither can coach Roberts.”

It was another bad break for the Kettleers, who couldn’t get anything going after Nolan Nawrocki’s (South Carolina) pinch-hit single with two outs in the final frame. Cotuit also saw plenty of excellent defensive plays made by the Whitecaps, including J.D. Rogers (Vanderbilt) making a catch crashing against the fence in right field against Tanner Thach (UNC Wilmington), and Kent laying out in shallow center field to retire the side in the third inning.

The Kettleers dropped to 12-8 on the season, maintaining their position in second place in the West Division at the halfway point of the season. They travel to take on the best of the west in the Wareham Gatemen at Spillane Field on Wednesday, with first pitch scheduled for 6 p.m.

Photo by Holden McBerty (Memphis).