HARWICH, MA: – Cooper Farris knew he had a reliable arm out of the bullpen before the season began, but after last night, he just might have his closer. Keith Bilodeau (Maine) took to the mound at Whitehouse Field in the bottom of the ninth with Wareham clinging to a 5-4 lead against Harwich and runners at second and third with nobody out. The stakes could not have been higher for Bilodeau, the Sagamore native who pitched for Bourne High School.
Despite hitting the firstbatter he faced, Bilodeau proceeded to strike out the next three batters, preserving the Gatemen’s (3-4) lead and picking up his second save of the season against the Mariners (2-5).
Wareham used timely hitting to snap its three-game losing streak, while Bilodeau’s heroics prevented an opponent from walking off against the Gatemen for the second time this season.
Jack Armstrong (Vanderbilt) made his season debut for Wareham. The 6’7, 230-pound righty worked in and out of trouble during his seven innings of work, but despite surrendering four runs on ten hits, Armstrong was good enough to pick up the win. He outperformed Andrew Leenhouts (Northeastern), who went five innings and allowed three earned runs before turning it over to the bullpen.
Wareham saw big days from its 2-3-4 hitters, who went acombined 6-for-11 on the day and drove in four of five of the Gatemen runs.
Jonathan Smith (Tenn.-Wesleyan) started things off in thefirst with a base hit to center field, followed by a single to right by George Springer (Connecticut). But an error by the right fielder allowed Smith to score and Springer to reach third. A sacrifice fly from Max Muncy (Baylor) drove in Springer to give Wareham the early 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the second, first baseman John Wootendrove in Harwich’s first run of the game with a double to deep center field. The Mariners tied it up in the third after back-to-back base hits to start the inning, but Armstrong limited the damage and got Brian Goodwin to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.
Wareham tacked on three runs in the top of thefifth. Derek Dennis (Michigan) led off with a walk, and collegiate teammate Anthony Toth (Michigan) sacrificed him to second. But after LJ Mazilli (Connecticut) grounded one back to Leenhouts, the Harwich pitcher alertly turned and, realizing Dennis was looking to advance to third, threw back to second for the fielder’s choice to get the lead runner. Mazilli would move to second in replace of Dennis during the rundown, and that would bring up Wareham’s two-out heroics.
Smith pulled a ball into right field to score Mazilli andreclaim Wareham’s lead, and Springer kept the inning alive with a base hit to move Smith to second base. Muncy then came to the plate and connected with a double down the right field line, scoring both Smith and Springer, extending the Gatemen lead to 5-2.
Harwich got a run back in the bottom of the fifth whenleadoff hitter Ronnie Richardson singled to start the inning, stole second, moved over to third on a base hit by Austin Nola, and stole home after Nola was caught stealing from first.
In the bottom of the seventh, Armstrong walked Aaron Conwaywith one out. The speedy center fielder stole second and third, and scored on a ground out to second off the bat of Richardson, pulling Harwich to within one at 5-4.
That score would hold through the remainder of thegame. After Jake Davies (Georgia Tech) came in to pitch a scoreless eighth, the lefty reliever walked the leadoff hitter in the bottom of the ninth, and an error by Muncy allowed the runners to advance. That set the stage for Bilodeau, who shut the door on the Mariners in dramatic fashioN.
Wareham has Monday off, and will next travel to Yarmouth-Dennis on Tuesday for a 5 p.m. contest.