08/11/2019 4:43 AM
Josh Muir Photo
Article By: Joseph Barrett
The Cotuit Kettleers captured their 17th championship in franchise history after defeating the Harwich Mariners in the 2019 Cape League championship series.
Friday not only marked a day of celebration for the team, but a time of unity and reflection as well. For all of the players, coaches, trainers, and everyone involved in the success, the championship belongs to Cotuit.
The summer may have ended with a triumphant hoist of the championship trophy, but the road to the gold wasn’t one without obstacles.
The maroon and white didn’t begin their season on opening day, but rather when the team arrived at the Cape this summer. Competitors became allies, coaches began to spread their knowledge, and the season was underway.
A 4-1 start was more than a satisfying opening for the club, as the group seemingly connected on all cylinders to open the season. Despite a lone loss to Chatham, the team’s upbeat offense carried them to their hot start. In just those five games, the team had already drawn eyes with 36 total tallies.
Just like how other championship teams can confirm, there must be adversity for success to rise. The Kettleers faced many obstacles this past season, including shutout losses, individual cold streaks, and upset finishes.
Despite the barriers, the team battled back with resilience, not panic. A mediocre 20-20-4 record may not have been ideal, but was enough for third place in the West Division.
When a team is preparing for a deep playoff run in any sport, their head coach or manager is arguably the first person one looks up to. In Cotuit’s case, Mike Roberts knows what it takes to transition from regular season to postseason play.
Roberts began this season as Cotuit’s manager for the 16th consecutive season, highlighted by his championship victories in 2010 and 2013. At the helm, Roberts has delivered with a handful of playoff appearances, only boosting his already impressive coaching prowess.
For the Kettleers, playoff time in Cape Cod began against a tough foe, the Wareham Gatemen. The team by the bridge would aim to replicate last season’s championship-caliber success, but Cotuit hoped to create a legacy of their own.
The defending champions would take game one of the three game series, but Roberts’ club would respond in a way that could surely be classified under “hard-hitting”.
In game number two of the first round, a 22 run explosion lead the team to a convincing victory to even the series. It would then be a decisive game number three at Spillane Field, but the away team came out victorious, and Cotuit lived to see another day.
Next on the schedule were the Falmouth Commodores, coming off of their series win over the Bourne Braves. Despite some top-tier pitching and a versatile offensive attack from Falmouth, it was a series sweep for Cotuit.
The West Division had now been decided, and the Kettleers were the only one standing. Two more victories for the team would mean the 17th championship in franchise history, and the team did everything they could to make that vision a reality.
A 15 inning marathon against the Harwich Mariners opened the Cape League finals, but it was the West Division team who left the field victorious. In game number two, the team delivered for the Kettleer faithful at Lowell Park with ten runs, and the celebration began.
As the team rushed the field and fans showed their appreciation for their now championship team, the season came to a close. However, just because the innings are over, doesn’t mean the lessons learned along the way will ever disappear.
Coach Roberts addressed the team after their victory, admiring the players’ profound respect both on and off of the field. Whether it was during gameplay or outside of the arena, he didn’t want this aspect of the game to be overlooked.
“I didn’t teach you that, your parents did. Your family, your coaches coming up, and college coaches now.” said Roberts.
The now three-time champion manager also preached how it was the team’s love for the game that carried them to victory. When players from across the country unite during a summer and play the game with unmatched passion, that’s how a team puts wins on the standings.
“You’ve got to love the backyard first, and that’s where it happens. You can’t take the wiffle ball out of this game.” said Roberts.
The Cotuit Kettleers can enjoy the rest of the summer knowing they’re the champions of the Cape Cod Baseball League, a grand accomplishment in the game of baseball. As players return to their college campuses, the brotherhood they created in Cape Cod will never, ever, be forgotten