COTUIT, MA: – Looking to get a jump in the opener of the Western Division final, third-seeded Cotuit broke a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning and went on to take Game 1 over fourth-seeded Wareham.
With runners and scoring position in the bottom of the sixth, Zach Cone (Georgia)—a team USA Invitee who did not make the final roster—scorched an RBI-double down the left field line to plate the game-winning runs, as the Kettleers (22-23-2), who finished the regular season on a six-game losing streak, won their third straight postseason contest, a 6-2 victory over the Gatemen (21-25-1).
Wareham will now have to win two in a row against its division rival should it hope to advance to the league championship series for the first time since 2006. Cotuit will travel across the Sagamore Bridge for tomorrow night’s elimination game at Spillane Field, and Game 3—if necessary—will be back at Lowell Park on Wednesday afternoon. The Kettleers are looking to return to the championship for the third year in a row.
Jack Armstrong (Vanderbilt) took the loss after yielding four earned runs on five hits while striking out four and walking three. Nick Tropeano (Stony Brook) allowed Wareham’s only runs, and was relieved after five innings in which he surrendered five hits while amassing five strikeouts and two walks. Tropeano had previously faced Wareham four times during the regular season.
Two more runs scored off of Andrew McKirahan (Texas) in the top of the seventh, after the lefty allowed a pair of singles and an RBI-double to Joey Hainsfurther (Baylor), to put Cotuit up 6-2. AJ Achter (Michigan State) kept Wareham in check the rest of the way, coming into the game in the bottom of the seventh and shutting out Wareham over 2.1 innings. He finished with one strikeout and three walks, while allowing three hits.
Wareham took the early lead on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jonathan Smith (Tenn.-Wesleyan) to drive in Jon Andreoli (Connecticut)—who led off the inning with a triple. After falling behind in the third, Zach Wilson (Arizona State) tied the game at 2-2 in the top of the fifth, doubling home Derek Dennis (Michigan) to draw even.
Cotuit tacked on two in the bottom of the third to take the temporary lead. Brooks Pinkcard (Baylor) singled to start the inning, moved to second on a sacrifice, and scored off the bat of Jordan Leyland (UC Irvine). After a walk and a passed ball, Leyland crossed home on an infield-hit down the third base line off of Deven Marrero (Arizona State).
Ryan Duke (Oklahoma), tied with Achter for the team lead in saves during the regular season, came into the game with one out and two aboard in the top of the ninth, and induced a fielder’s choice by pinch-hitter Jake Davies (Georgia Tech) and struck out Tyler Bream (Liberty) to end the game.
Wareham will try and stave off elimination tomorrow night at Spillane Field in Game 2 of the Western Division final. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.
Notes and Notables
Devin Burke (Duke) and Matt Andriese (Cal Riverside) each threw a scoreless inning of relief. Burke struck out one and allowed no hits, while Andriese struck out one, walked one and allowed a hit . . . Cotuit has won three straight playoff games, and has not lost against Wareham since June 13 . . .Eric Pfisterer (Duke) is the probable starter for tomorrow night.