HARWICH – It was an impressive home opener for Monomoy boys varsity baseball pitcher Joe Cottle. On Monday, the junior hurler led the Sharks to a 15-0 shutout victory in which he struck out eight and only walked three. But that wasn't all. Not only was the game a shutout, but it was also a no-hitter for Cottle, who kicked off the season with a commanding all-around performance in the Sharks' April 1 outing.
“His pitching was tremendous,” said head coach Steve Porter, celebrating his first victory as the team's new head coach after taking over for former coach Steve Wilson, who retired at the end of last season. “Joe set the tone of the game.”
Indeed, Cottle got the Sharks started at Whitehouse field, quickly retiring Sacred Heart's leadoff batters and setting up Monomoy's starters nicely. Leading off was Logan Routhier with a walk just before the Sharks loaded the bases for the first time in the outing.
Following Logan Routhier was Sean Gould with a hit that landed him on first and which became the team's first hit of the season. Meanwhile, Routhier made his way to third after stealing second during Gould's at-bat.
Next up was Jamie Routhier, the third Shark to reach base, just in time for Cottle to step up and swing into a long ball that allowed all three of his predecessors to come home, putting Monomoy ahead 3-0, with Joe DeMango bringing in Cottle to make it 4-0 after the first inning.
When the Saints finally made it back to bat at the bottom of the second, Cottle continued his domination, much to the frustration of the visiting Sacred Heart squad, who saw their next three batters quickly silenced.
Monomoy loaded the bases again in the second, this time courtesy of Logan Routhier, Hunter Brackett, and Gould, as the Shark tally continued to climb. Meanwhile, Cottle continued to shine both on the pitcher's mound and at bat, ultimately going 3-for-5 at the plate with six RBIs. His performance included the first-inning, base-clearing triple, and a long bomb in the fourth that not only brought in an additional run, but became an inside-the-park homer when Cottle blazed around the bases, sliding safely into home plate.
“That's about as good a first game of the season as you could have,” said Porter. “Joe was really the star of the opening game. He works hard. He is religious about his band work and taking care of his body, so he really deserves the success.”
But Cottle wasn't the only solid hitter in the outing. Logan Routhier went 2-for-2 with three walks and three runs scored, while DeMango had two hits, a walk, and two RBIs. Isaac Hart also had two hits and two RBIs, while Jamie Routhier had what Porter called a “nice hit” in the sixth to plate two runs. Gould opened with the first hit and added two walks and three runs scored.
The game came to a close in the sixth when Monomoy plated its 15th run, invoking the Mercy Rule.
“It was definitely a good confidence booster for the kids heading into the season,” said Porter.
He was pleased with his team's hitting, something he said they struggled with during a preseason scrimmage.
“We spoke about really being aggressive and going after that first good pitch right off the bat,” Porter said. “Then we loaded the bases in first, second, fourth, and sixth. It was a great opening for everyone. A big confidence booster heading into the next game.”
At press time, that game was set for 4 p.m. Tuesday against Sturgis West, one of Monomoy's Cape and Islands League opponents. Porter said the hope was and is to maintain a competitive edge in the league and earn another spot in the playoffs, ideally with a deeper run than in previous years.
“Our hopes for the season, as always, are to make the playoffs,” Porter said. “We've got the talent to do so. Getting to the tourney and making some noise in the tournament is obviously the goal.”
Along with his team, Porter gave a big nod to Wilson for laying the foundation of Monomoy baseball.
“I think a lot of credit has to go to Coach Wilson,” Porter said. “I'm making sure to keep the team going in the direction he started them in.”