WAREHAM, MA: – If it isn’t one thing, it’s probably something else.
That theme, which has embodied the Wareham Gatemen’s struggles through the first ten games of the 2010 season, was prevalent again on Thursday night at Spillane Field against the Chatham Anglers.
After timely hitting with runners in scoring position erased a two-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Gatemen (3-7) were unable to hold that lead as bullpen struggles allowed the Anglers (7-3-1) to take the lead in the top of the ninth and held on to win the game 6-5.
With righty Joseph Flynn (Franklin Pierce) on the mound, Dan Paolini led off the inning for the Anglers with a slow ground ball to third base, but Tyler Bream (Liberty) sent an errant throw over the head of first baseman Max Muncy (Baylor), allowing Paolini to reach second. It was déjà vu for the Gatemen in the very next at-bat, as Peter Verdin would reach on an infield single to third and advanced to second on another throwing error by Bream, scoring Paolini and putting Chatham on top, 5-4.
After Keith Bilodeau (Maine) relieved Flynn, Brian Humphries greeted him with a double to the right center to score Verdin, the second unearned run of the inning. Bilodeau settled down and retired the next three batters he faced to end the inning with the Anglers on top 6-4.
Wareham showed signs of life in the bottom of the ninth, as Alex Dickerson (Indiana) continued his torrid start of the season with a base hit to center field to lead off the inning. Chris Walker (Fordham) then singled to left to move Dickerson to second. Muncy had to hustle to first to beat out a potential double play, and settled for a fielder’s choice as Walker was retired at second and Dickerson advanced to third.
With the Gatemen still trailing 6-4, Jerrud Sabourin (Indiana) came to the plate as a pinch hitter for Bream. Muncy stole second on a catcher’s indifference, and the tables were set for Wareham to tie the game with a base hit. Sabourin only managed an unassisted ground out to first baseman Rick Orapesa, allowing Dickerson to score to make it 6-5 and moving Muncy to third.
LJ Mazzilli, who was an offensive substitution for designated hitter Robert Kral (College of Charleston) in the sixth inning, came to the plate with two outs and the tying run at third, but Chatham reliever Matt Brazis shut the door on the Gatemen for good, getting Mazzilli to ground out to second to extinguish the rally and hand Wareham its third straight loss.
Despite the timely hitting, Wareham’s defense and bullpen played the foil for the second time in three games.
Eric Pfisterer (Duke) left the game in the top of the seventh with runners on first and second, one out and with Wareham leading 2-1. That prompted the entrance of Flynn, who came on for a two-inning save in his only other appearance this season. Paolini swung at the first pitch he saw from Flynn, and hit the ball on the ground to short, where Derek Dennis (Michigan) made the scoop and shuffled it to second baseman Adam McClain (Memphis) for what should have been a 6-4-3 double play.
That double play never came.
Instead, McClain botched the throw from Dennis, allowing all runners to reach safely and loading the bases for Verdin. After walking home a run, Flynn gave up a base hit up the middle to score two more runs, putting Chatham on top 4-2.
Wareham drew even in the bottom half of the inning, using some two-out heroics to score two runs off reliever Zack Jones, who picked up the win. With a runner at first, Dickerson singled up the middle to move Jonathan Smith (Tenn.-Wesleyan) to third. That brought up Walker, who connected with a two-out, two-RBI double to deep right center, plating Smith and Dickerson tying the game at 4-4.
Wareham had plenty of opportunities to strike early against Chatham starter Garrett Davis, who walked seven batters in 2.1 innings of work, but could only muster one run in the third to take the early lead. McClain was walked to lead off the inning, and eventually scored the game’s first game on a wild pitch.
Paolini tied the game at 1-1 in the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run to left field. George Springer (Connecticut) matched him in the home half of the fifth, smashing a solo shot of his own into bleachers to give Wareham a 2-1 lead.
Wareham will look to get back in the ‘W’ column on Friday night against Hyannis at McKeon Park. The Harbor Hawks have already taken the first two games of the season series after the Gatemen went 6-0 against Hyannis last year. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.