Helps hot Kettleers sweep Brewster

COTUIT — While driving to Lowell Park for a Cape League doubleheader Sunday against Brewster, Cotuit outfielder Griffin Conine called his dad to say, “Happy Father’s Day.” His father wished him luck and Griffin said he’d try to hit one out for his dad.

With the Kettleers tied 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth of a game that was supposed to only go seven innings, he sliced a fly ball to the opposite field that looked like it was going foul. No one reacted, Conine didn’t run out of the box, but the ball blew back fair and snuck just inside the left field foul pole — fulfilling his gift to his dad.

“Usually when I hit those that way they tail foul by a lot, but we had this cross wind going,” Conine said. “… I was lucky.”

In the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader, Conine went 1-for-3 with a home run and played a role in all four of Cotuit’s runs. The Kettleers won 4-3 in eight innings.

He went 2-for-3 with a double as the Kettleers (4-0), the only remaining unbeaten team in the Cape League, topped Brewster (2-2) again in the second game, 2-1.

He’s been the catalyst for the Cotuit offense early in the season with a team-high six runs batted in.

Conine, of Duke University, is, in part, taking after his dad. Jeff Conine played for Orleans in 1986 before spending 17 years in the major leagues. Jeff was a two-time all-star and two-time World Series winner with the Marlins.

“Very strong young man and a short compact swing,” Cotuit head coach Mike Roberts said of the younger Conine. “You got to like that. Obviously he’s got baseball pedigree in him and he just looks like a really good baseball player to me.”

In game one on Sunday, Conine dodged a fastball that nearly grazed his back, allowing the runner to score from third on the wild pitch. He eventually walked, then intentionally got himself caught in a rundown between first and second so that Ako Thomas (Michigan) could steal home.

Then came Conine’s homer in his next at-bat. He delivered once more with a hard line drive off the first baseman’s glove in the bottom of the eighth with a runner already on to set up Gian Martellini (Boston College) for the game-winning single.

Conine spent plenty of time around baseball and the MLB growing up, often shagging fly balls during batting practice at Sun Life Stadium. He still remembers watching his dad win the World Series in 2003 at 6 years old.

Jeff never pushed his son toward baseball, though, Conine said, and has taken a hands off approach to Conine’s career. If Conine asks for help, his father obliges with a tip about his swing or something he noticed on film.

The most important baseball lesson Conine’s father taught him growing up was that baseball is a game of failure. You have to accept and overcome it when it happens.

Conine’s start in the Cape League, though, has been mostly success. And he powered the Kettleers offense yet again.

Joe Rubin and his daughter Madison won Cotuit’s second annual Father’s Day pie eating contest that was held between games.