By: Tom Albano
McKeon Park Hyannis, MA
In the third game in three days played between the Kettleers and the Harbor Hawks, the Hawks came out victorious in a 4-3 battle that came down to the bullpens. Hyannis proved yet again tonight that they have one of the best if not the best on the Cape.
Cotuit came out strong as left fielder Kyle Wren (Georgia Tech) who is fourth in the league batting .361 led off with a double and would later score on a one out Victor Roache (Georgia Southern) RBI ground out. Hyannis came back strong against Cotuit starter Mason McVay (Florida Intl.) in the bottom of the first. Shortstop Eric Stamets (Evansville) led off the game with a single to deep short that he beat out rather easily with his great speed. Joey Rickard (Arizona) who had his second two hit game in as many nights ripped a triple scoring easily was Stamets who had advanced to third during the at bat after an errant pickoff attempt by McVay to tie the game at 1. The Hawks were not done yet as clean up hitter Joey DeMichele (Arizona St.) brought Rickard home on a sacrifice fly to right to give them an early 2-1 lead after the first inning.
Cotuit followed up their first inning run with another in the second and third. Hyannis starter Andrew Strenge (Cincinnati) was not able to get himself in a groove tonight as he allowed a run in each inning. The Kettleers has something going in the second a leadoff walk to designated hitter Stefan Sabol (Oregon) and a single just by the glove of ranging Hyannis 2B Zach Vincej (Pepperdine). After a sac bunt, Cotuit had runners on second and third with one out and yet another bunt for Cotuit by 3B Logan Vick (Baylor) scored Sabol and Vick was able to reach first with a single as well as an RBI to tie it up at 2. Strenge rebounded well and got the next two batters he faced to prevent any more damage. After recording two outs in the third Strenge left a hanger to Cotuit 1B Cody Stubbs (Walters State) and he did not let him get away with it as Stubbs blasted the ball out for his first home run of the summer.
Hyannis bats were silent in the bottom of the inning and Ryan Gibson (Oklahoma) came on in the fourth a little shaky after allowing 2 walks and a base hit but was saved by great defense as Cotuit’s Vick was caught trying to score and was thrown out on his way back to third to end the inning. Hyannis took the momentum of getting out of the big jam and ran with it in the bottom of the fourth. Adam Walker II (Jacksonville) last night’s player of the game, led off the fourth with a line drive between third and short for a base hit. Catcher Kevin Plawecki (Purdue) followed with a sharply hit ball to right center field for a double and with Walker wisely being held at second with 0 outs, the Hawks had something going with runners on second and third. Right fielder Austin Elkins (Dallas Baptist) was down 0-2 quickly but hang in there and was able to hit a ball to center field deep enough to score Walker to tie the game at 3. With Plawecki at second, 3B Justin Gonzalez (Florida St.) kept the rally going with a long single hit hard down the left field line to give the Hawks a 4-3 lead they would not lose, as the Hawks pitching from then on was brilliant.
After his fourth inning jam, Gibson was unhittable. He came back and struck out the side in the fifth the first three of seven strikeouts he would tally over five and two thirds innings. Gibson stayed hot in the sixth and seventh innings retiring the Kettleers in order both innings. Until the eighth he had retired 11 consecutive batters until he hit Roache with a pitch, but he was later picked off on an attempted steal of second to end the inning. Cotuit reliever lefty Trent Daniel (Arkansas) was also very impressive as he threw three and two thirds without allowing a hit and striking out two despite having some control issues walking four including an intentional walk of Walker in the fifth. Gibson continued his dominance in the ninth until a walk to Cotuit catcher Kevin Roundtree (USC) and manager Chad Gassman decided it was enough after 81 pitches and brought in Nick Wittgren (Purdue) for the last out with the tying run at 1st. Wittgren was able to get short stop Kevin Mager (Rollins) to pop out to Walker at first for his second save of the year and finish off Gibson’s second win of the season and as many in his last two outings.
Talking to our player of the game Ryan Gibson after his five and two thirds innings of 1 hit ball with seven strike outs, we had a couple questions as this is the second time he has done long work out of the bullpen and helped the Hawks in a big way to a W. Harbor Hawks broadcaster Dylan Vazzano asked Gibson what he felt was working well for him tonight he said, “Fastball, curve, slider were all great for me, I had some difficulty with my change up”. As Gibson has been a key member out of the bullpen, especially in long situations we also wondered if he had the durability to be a starter Gibson replied “I have been a starter most of my life, I feel a little tired right now, but good at the same time since we got the win”. This has to have manager Chad Gassman thinking as Gibson at times has been absolutely unhittable and with his arm stretched out could be very valuable for the Hawks long term.
The victory tonight moved the Hawks to a 11-5 record and places them alone at the top of the league standings as Harwich lost to Orleans tonight 5-1. The Hawks will get a much deserved day off tomorrow, but will be back in action on Friday at McKeon Park against the Chatham Anglers for a 7:00 PM start. The Anglers are 5-10-1 this season, but are expected to have starter Keith Bilodeau (Maine) on the mound who has yet to allow an earned run so far in thirteen and two thirds innings. The Hawks are expected to counter with Scott Firth (Clemson) who has only allowed one run in twelve innings. We should be in store for a good pitchers duel so you may not want to miss this one.