By SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
WAREHAM, MA: It was just one of those nights.
With the game tied at 3-3 in the top of the eighth and an Orleans runner on base with one out, reliever Andrew Zapata (Connecticut) tossed a pickoff attempt over to first base. The throw got by first baseman Blair Beck (Kansas) and travelled up the right field line. As Beck tracked down the ball, Orleans right fielder Mitch Tolman (Oregon) rounded second and headed for third. Beck’s return throw to third went wide, and Tolman went from first to home on one play to give the Firebirds a 4-3 lead.
The wild, two-error sequence encapsulated a difficult night on the diamond for the Gatemen (4-11) who committed five errors in a 7-3 loss to Orleans at Spillane Field.
Timely hitting and heads-up base running gave the Gatemen an early 1-0 in the bottom of the second. A walk from Blair Beck and singles from right fielder Anderson Miller (Western Kentucky) and second baseman Willie Calhoun (Arizona) loaded the bases with two outs. Beck crossed the plate on a wild pitch from Orleans starter Trevor Megill (Loyola Marymount), but the Gatemen were unable to add any more in the second.
Orleans tied the game 1-1 in the top of the third when catcher Brett Lang (North Carolina) came around to score on an RBI double from shortstop David Fletcher (Loyola Marymount). Wareham starter Brock Downey (Murray State) settled down to get designated hitter Edwin Rios (Florida International) to strike out looking at a curveball and first baseman David Thompson (Miami) to fly out to right field to end the inning.
The Firebirds capitalized on more defensive miscues by the Gatemen to take a 3-1 lead in the top of the sixth. After Thompson led off with a single to right field, Downey hit right fielder Mitch Tolman (Oregon) to put runners at first and second with no outs. A wild pitch and a throwing error to third from catcher Keaton Aldridge (Memphis) allowed Thompson to cross the plate with the go-ahead run. A sacrifice fly from third baseman Bobby Dalbec (Arizona) brought in Tolman and ended Downey’s evening. The Murray State southpaw had a solid start for the Gatemen, allowing three runs and six hits while striking out three batters in 5.1 innings of work.
For the second consecutive game, the Gatemen came up with a late-inning rally to tie the ballgame. In the bottom of the seventh, Miller led off with an infield single and Calhoun looped a single to right. Shortstop Blake Lacey (USC) laid a bunt down the third base line that Dalbec misplayed, loading the bases with no outs. Reliever Reilly Hovis (North Carolina) came on in relief for the Firebirds and got Knizner to pop out to first. A wild pitch brought in Miller, and an RBI single off Dalbec’s glove from Aldridge plated Calhoun to tie the game 3-3. Hovis settled down to strike out pinch hitter Jake Little (Memphis) and designated hitter Chris Chinea (LSU) and escape the inning.
The eighth-inning defensive miscues put a damper on what had become an exciting game for the Gatemen. The Firebirds would plate another run in the eighth, and two more in the top of the ninth, to increase their lead to 7-3.
Willie Calhoun continued his incredible offensive start to the season with a 4-5 performance that included two wall-ball doubles. He now has a league-leading 11 doubles on the season, and is hitting .371, which stands as the third-best average on the Cape. Anderson Miller played well in his return from a hand injury that kept him out of action for a week. The Western Kentucky outfielder was 2-3 with a run scored.
The Gatemen will make their first trip to Falmouth Saturday night for a matchup with the 7-7-1 Commodores at Guv Fuller Field (6:30 p.m. ET). Wareham will be looking to capitalize on an opportunity to make up some ground in the Western Division with a win over the Commodores.
As always, you can watch the live stream of the game by accessing our “Gatemen Pressbox” page. The pre-game show begins around 6:10 p.m. Like the Wareham Gatemen Baseball Facebook page and follow @WarehamGatemen for all the latest news on the team.
Pregame Interview with John Bormann (UT-San Antonio)