Thatcher Hurd changes Cotuit’s fortune with stellar start

COTUIT, Mass. – Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver once said, “Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.”

On Independence Day, the Cotuit Kettleers were able to change their fortunes following a two-game losing streak by riding Thatcher Hurd (transfer portal) in the longest outing by a Ketts pitcher of the season to a 5-2 victory over the Falmouth Commodores at Lowell Park.

“He was extremely focused like he was back at Omaha pitching in the College World Series — ahead of all the hitters,” Kettleers manager Mike Roberts said.

Hurd turned in the longest outing of any Cotuit pitcher this season, allowing one run over six innings on just one hit and a walk. The winning pitcher in the championship-clinching Game 3 in 2023 with LSU relied on power pitching early, punching out four over the first two frames, including all three outs in the top of the second. A Trent Caraway foul ball spoiled an otherwise immaculate inning, striking out the side on 10 pitches, all strikes.

Over his last four innings, Hurd excelled at inducing weak contact and kept his pitch count low. Pitching backward with off-speed early in counts, only one mistake bit him on a solo home run by Gavin Turley (Oregon St.) to put the Commodores within a run to start the fifth inning.

“I pitched to my strengths and got ahead with what I have,” Hurd said. “Curveball and cutter are two of my best pitches, so just establishing those early and keeping them in between.”

The Kettleers offense was held relatively in check by the Falmouth pitching staff, amassing just two hits through the bottom of the fourth inning. Against flamethrower Tanner Smith (Harvard) in the second, Charles Davalan (Arkansas) came around to score after a leadoff single when two passed balls by Commodores catcher Scott Mudler (Oklahoma) moved him 90 feet from home. Tyler Cerny (Indiana) drove Davalan in for the first run of the game to give Cotuit a lead it never looked back from.

Brandon Compton (Arizona St.) provided a jolt of offense with his solo shot in the bottom of the fourth inning as Falmouth moved to the bullpen with Riley Stanford (Georgia Tech). Familiar with the reliever from their June 25 bout, Compton could sit on one pitch.

“I knew we faced him last time here at home. And it was the same thing, just a lot of fastballs over the plate, trying to hit it type of deal,” Compton said. “So I was definitely trying to get the bat out and catch up to the speed and I did.”

After pulling a 94 mph fastball foul the pitch prior, Compton didn’t miss when Stanford went back to the heater, depositing the ball into the trees in right field to give the Kettleers a 2-0 lead.

Cotuit tacked on decisive insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth inning, plating a trio as Falmouth surrendered two hits and committed two errors. The Commodore balked in Jarren Advincula (Cal) before Matt Klein (Louisville) singled in another. Davalan wrapped the inning up by scoring on an error by the third baseman.

Falmouth managed to get to the Cotuit bullpen in the top of the ninth inning, but were otherwise ineffective against southpaw Cade Fisher (Florida) and Christian Becerra (Cal) over the last three frames as they made their Cape League debuts.

“I thought our pitching tonight, even though two of the pitchers I didn't know anything about, I was still confident that they would give us a chance to win.”

The Kettleers will try to keep their momentum going toward winning ways on Friday, taking a visit to the Chatham Anglers at Veterans Field for a scheduled start time of 7 p.m.