Turning Points with the Cotuit Kettleers

The idea of turning points is ingrained in the very fiber of the Cape Cod Baseball League. In essence everyone who participates in the most prestigious summer baseball organization in the world is at a turning point in life. This theme is pervasive throughout all aspects.

The players are hoping this is their turning point to stardom and big money in the Major Leagues. They have been stars at every level up to and including college and will be using the CCBL as a springboard to their future.

The interns are at a turning point in their lives as well. Most of them college students completing a course requirement, adding to their resume, or like yours truly, hoping to leap into the professional world. Spending a summer broadcasting games or running the day-to-day operations could be a major turning point in their lives.

Even the board members, presidents and administrators have found themselves at a turning point around these parts, albeit later on in their lives. Everyone involved with Cape Cod baseball, from the interns to the great Arnold Mycock has experienced an important part of life known as a turning point in the village of Cotuit.

Baseball, like life, is a story. Every game and every season has a rising action, turning point, climax and resolution. That is what made the ending to the Cotuit Kettleers “10 games in 10 days” stretch so powerful. Finishing out the recent marathon by winning four of the final five, including the last three in a row represents a turning point in the Kettleers season.

Over the past week, leading up to yesterday’s off-day, things have been snugly falling into place for Cotuit. A ten game stretch like the one just endured by the entire crew of Lowell Park is a bonding experience rivaled by few others. Relationships are forged out of necessity, not just want.

No player has exemplified the theme of a turning point more than second-year Kettleer Patrick Biondi. The Michigan junior was unable to get anything going for Cotuit in 2011, but returned this year with a vengeance. He is currently leading the CCBL in hitting with a .404 average and an even more impressive .500 OBP. The same player who couldn’t clear the Mendoza Line last season has made Cape Cod his own personal turning point this summer.

Along with the emergence of Biondi, the arrival of power hitting Daniel Aldrich in the middle of the stretch instantly transformed the offense. In just five games, Aldrich has hits in 10 of his first 25 at bats, including three home runs and eight RBI.

The rocky start of the Kettleer pitching staff had many worried, but calming presences have been found both in the starting rotation and the multilevel bullpen in right field. Kevin Ziomek has come into his own this season with a 1.19 ERA through 22.2 innings. His start against Wareham Saturday night (7 innings, 0 runs) exemplified the new-found confidence Cotuit has been playing with.

Georgia Tech sophomore Dusty Isaacs has taken over the reigns to the Kettleers bullpen and gone 3.2 and 4.1 innings in his last two appearances, respectively. Isaacs’ immense presence as a workhorse of late has filled the void left by hurlers making spot-starts due to injuries.

There is no greater bonding experience than filling in for an injured brother and doing his job admirably. Long reliever Jordan Ramsey was forced to make an Independence Day start and battled through 6.2 innings, giving up three runs. He gave Cotuit the opening they needed to complete a big win over Falmouth.

With players like Tim Kiene, Raph Rhymes and Tony Kemp missing time due to injury their replacements have filled in and aided in turning the season around.

Jacob May has a 14 game hitting streak going and Mike Ford, who has been seeing time for Kiene at first base, has knocked in five runs in the past three games. James Roberts, who has filled holes in the infield, is 10-for-15 on the current win streak.

Cotuit has used a host of players trying to find a consistent lead-off hitter, but when Kemp had to nurse a minor injury, coach Mike Roberts struck gold with third baseman Adam Nelubowich in the one-spot. The Washington State sophomore reached base nine times over the weekend, leading to four runs scored and two RBI.

As players return from injury, Cotuit will find itself with an embarrassment of riches. At 11-10 on the season and a long, hot July and August coming up, that is a huge benefit to the residents of Lowell Park. A turning point can only get you so far, though. This particular one has come and gone. The dog days ahead, starting at Yarmouth-Dennis Tuesday, will be where Cotuit must make a run.

We are always looking for more in life. Baseball is no different. One game over .500 is not enough, and yesterday’s off-day should be used to take stock about what is in motion right now.

As I’ve learned over the past twenty-odd years of living, there is more than just one turning point in life. You should cherish each of them dearly as they pass, but always be on the look out for what comes next.

This season is far from over, but these past ten days will serve as a memory when things get tough and maybe take a turn for the worse. The Kettleers now know what they are capable of, and keeping this ship turned in the right direction is of the utmost importance.

This piece was written for the Cotuit Kettleers of the Cape Cod Baseball league. You can see the original posting here: http://www.kettleers.org/2012/07/kettleers-and-turning-points/