With The Help Of Monomoy Players, Centerville Coyotes Play To First 2020 Win
COTUIT – If you thought you heard the crack of a bat and the slap of a ball against a glove in Cotuit on Monday evening, you weren’t dreaming. Baseball is back, and with it came the Centerville Coyotes’ first victory of 2020, a come-from-behind 4-2 win against the New Bedford Whalers.
The game marked the first for the Coyotes, playing under the independent Area X Baseball League on their home field, Lowell Park in Cotuit. But while the team is housed in Barnstable, a handful of Monomoy players round out the roster, with Asa Kline and Joe Cottle having stellar games once the rust was shaken off.
The ‘Yotes first at-bats were a testament to the fact that many players hadn’t properly picked up a bat in nearly a year given the cancellation of spring sports across the state, but once they worked out the bugs, the game turned in their favor.
After falling behind in the opening innings, the fourth inning proved the game changer for the home team. Monomoy catcher Sean Gould led with a one-out walk for the Coyotes, racing to third when Jack “Gumby” Gumbert hit into a double to right, with a walk from Zach Ruth loading the bases.
A groundout to second from Nick Swaylik brought in Gould, paving the way for a huge at-bat from Kline, which team General Manager David Murphy said was the game’s turning point. After drawing two strikes, with two outs on the board, Kline swung into a single to left, deep enough to allow Gumbert and Ruth to make it home, putting the Coyotes ahead 3-2.
“He fouled a few pitches off and then the count got to 2-2,” said Murphy. “That two-run single was huge. That definitely turned it around.”
The Whalers tried putting the Coyotes on notice in the fifth with a walk and an infield single, but Cottle, who stepped in for starting pitcher Colby August in the fourth, found his groove and settled in, forcing a flyout and a groundout to end the inning.
The sixth inning saw two New Bedford players reach base on singles, but again Cottle maintained his focus and eliminated the threat. Meanwhile, Logan Routhier boosted the home team with an insurance run in the Coyotes half of the frame. Though his hit was, by his admission, ugly, it was enough to do damage as Ruth made it home, putting Centerville ahead 4-2 as the final inning approached.
The game’s remainder belonged to Cottle, who wrapped up the win with a tidy 6-4-3 double play, the team’s first win officially in the books.
For Murphy, the game brought a strange sense of relief after all the legwork involved in bringing it to fruition. In order to secure permission for the game and the team’s season, there was much to consider in terms of meeting COVID-19 protocol, which mandated social distancing in the dugout and masks during specific moments of play. Protocols also required players to change some of their habits, such as having pitchers use damp towels to keep their grip instead of blowing on them.
“Baseball has these antics,” said Murphy. “It’s so different. All the work this year was a little more chaotic. Stressful. Making sure that protocol is followed, communicating it to the kids… I think that’s why I feel like now we can just focus on baseball. It’s a sense of relief for me. Now we’re doing what we love, and the rest comes naturally.”
Though few of the smattering of fans in attendance wore masks, most did their best to stay separated in the stands or along the fences at Lowell Park, happy to be finally cheering on their favorite players after far too long.
“It was really exciting, and to see a lot of people out there too was refreshing,” Murphy said. “All this preparation’s been unique to say the least, but I’m glad we’ve got our first game under our belt.”
The win, he said, was a feather in the cap.
“It was a well-played game,” Murphy said. “It showed signs of not having played baseball this year, but I’ve got to admit that Colby August and Joe Cottle, for not throwing on a pitcher’s mound in a true game this year, they looked really good. To have that type of command with their pitches is just good for us.”
“I really liked Colby and Joe’s command and demeanor on the mound. I really liked how they were mixing their pitches,” he said. “They’re going to be the top two for sure.”
Murphy acknowledged a rough start with heavy bats and players left on base, but was pleased to see his team gather momentum as the game progressed. Murphy gave kudos to Swaylik for the grounder that brought in the first score, Gumbert, who went 3-for-3 with a run and a double, and Monomoy grad Logan Routhier.
“Logan looked really silky in the field and looked really good,” Murphy said.
He also praised Cottle for keeping his head.
“Joe had a couple situations,” Murphy said. “There were back-to-back singles in the sixth, but Cottle forced a pop fly. To be able to get out of those situations this early in the season is a double positive for us.”
Murphy is also looking forward to seeing Monomoy’s Drew Edson on the mound in the team’s July 8 game at Plymouth.
“I really like our team. I like our chances,” Murphy said. “We’re stacked pitching, which is huge. We’re that much stronger having Cottle and Drew Edson.”
Kline said he was thrilled to be back on a ballfield.
“It was really fun to get back out there last night and to be able compete again,” he said. “We all haven’t seen live pitching in a while, which was challenging for everyone, but we all pulled through as a team and played our best. Our pitching and defense were solid and it was a nice first win.”
For Gould, it was also special.
“It was like a vivid dream. It felt so amazing to be back behind the dish and up at the plate,” he said.
The team’s next home game is tomorrow (July 10) at 5:30 p.m. at Lowell Park against Plymouth.