By James Nahikian
COTUIT — The Kettleers jumped out to a 7-0 lead before winning Game One of the Western Division Championship Series by a score of 9-2 at Lowell Park. Bourne pounded out ten hits on the night and put at least two runners on base during four separate frames, but the Braves were held scoreless in those four innings and ended up stranding ten runners throughout the course of the contest. The Braves — who also lost Game One in Hyannis during the first round — will now have to win two straight games in order to advance to the Cape League Championship Series.
Bourne’s starter, Kris Gardner (Wichita State), lasted just an inning and a third before receiving the hook during Cotuit’s five-run second inning.
After Rhett Wiseman (Vanderbilt) was set down to start the frame, Caleb Bryson (Samford) stroked a solo home run that sailed over the right field fence. Jake Fincher (North Carolina State) then blooped a single into right field, setting up Austin Byler’s (Nevada) two-run moon shot that also carried over the right field fence. Cotuit tacked on their final two runs of the frame due largely in part to a Tyler Kuresa (UCSB) error. Kuresa fielded a bunt, but his throw to home plate got passed catcher Max McDowell (Connecticut) – allowing both Garrett Stubbs (Southern Cal) and Logan Ratledge (North Carolina State) to score.
Although Josh Laxer (Ole Miss) came into the game prior to the bunt, all five of Cotuit’s runs were charged to Gardner.
With Laxer still on the mound in the fourth inning, Cotuit tacked on two insurance runs. After Ratledge notched a one-out single, Stubbs plated the speedy base runner with a slowly hit single that chopped its way into left field. Danny Diekroeger (Stanford) then lined a double down the right field line – plating Stubbs and making the score 7-0.
The Braves countered with their first run of the ballgame in the top of the fifth, as Tim Caputo (Rhode Island) knocked a one-out triple into the left-center field gap, and came around to score after Mason Robbins (Southern Miss) hustled out an infield single. Robbins – who slid in safely on the play – also recorded an infield single during the game’s opening frame.
Dalton Potts (Tennessee Martin) was the victim of Bourne’s fifth-inning run, but the southpaw earned the win for the Kettleers. Potts surrendered his one run on six hits while fanning three batters and walking one.
Later on in the game, another Bourne triple made the score 8-2. Caputo led off the seventh inning with an infield single, and was then plated by Clinton Freeman (East Tennessee State) – who dove into third base head first after crushing a delivery off the center field wall.
Cotuit nullified the Braves’ two runs by plating a run apiece in both the sixth and seventh frames. Eric Karch (Pepperdine) then secured the 9-2 victory by tossing two perfect innings to close out the contest.
The Braves will look to continue their season tomorrow night at Doran Park, as the Kettleers will make the trip to Bourne for Game Two. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
James Nahikian is the beat writer for the Bourne Braves and will be entering his second year at Bowling Green State University. Follow James on Twitter @KingNahikian.