Every time it appeared as though the Gatemen were on the verge of applying pressure on Cotuit (4-14), the Ketleers had an answer.
Despite three combined home runs out of Colton Shaver and Gavin Sheets, the Gatemen (9-8-1) fell behind Cotuit 3-0 in the bottom of the first and never were able to pull even, as Cotuit hung on for a 7-6 win on Friday night at Lowell Park.
Trailing 7-3 entering the top the ninth, Wareham managed to pull within a run. Nico Giarratano led off the inning with a walk, and two batters later Cole Freeman hit a ball off the left center field wall for a double. Cotuit closer Alec Byrd caught Alex Destino looking for the second out of the inning, but Shaver made sure the Gatemen got the tying run to the plate.
On 2-1, Shaver belted a three run blast well over the fence in left center field – his second home run of the game – and pulling Wareham back within a run at 7-6.
Byrd, however, settled down and was able to get Sheets swinging on a high fastball to seal the win for the Kettleers.
Wareham Coach Jerry Weinstein said the Gatemen’s inability to put pressure on Cotuit early was the difference in the game.
“We had them on the ropes in the first inning and we did not capitalize,” said Weinstein. “At times we hit the ball hard today but in that spot (Rogallo) made some big pitches that he did not make at other times.”
In the top half of the opening frame, Wareham found themselves with an opportunity to strike first.
Freeman worked a walk and proceeded to steal second as well third. Destino followed up by working a walk of his own before advancing to second on a wild pitch, giving Wareham second and third with one man down.
The Gatemen were unable to cash in. Cotuit starter Keith Rogallo struck out Shaver on an outside fastball, and retired Sheets on groundout to first to retire the side.
Cotuit jumped on the chance to strike first, as they scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the first to take a 3-0 lead.
Wareham starter Jake Walters was able to retire the first two batters of the inning but then ran into trouble.
He walked Ketleers’ three-hitter Cal Stevenson, and then made matters worse by throwing a pickoff attempt wild, permitting Stevenson to move all the way to third base.
Moments later, Alonzo Jones Jr. gave Cotuit an early 1-0 lead, singling back through the box.
Quinn Brodley kept the line moving with a single to right field, and a throwing error by Robbie Metz allowed Jones and Brodley to each move up a base.
The Gatemen’s third error of the inning proved to be the most costly.
Tim Susnara reached out and tapped a slow chopper to Preston Grand Pre over at third base. Grand Pre came in on the run, fielded the grounder, and threw to first, but his throw went wild and up the first base line bringing in Jones and Bradley to put Cotuit up 3-0.
Wareham was down 4-0 entering the top of the fourth, but Sheets seemed to give his team a jolt of energy, as his long solo blast to begin the frame brought the Gatemen back within 4-1.
Metz immediately followed up Sheets home run with a single to left, and after back-to-back bunts moved Metz over to third, Nico Giarratano brought him with an infield single to third base.
The Kettleers, however, refused to be denied as in the bottom half of the frame, they answered with three runs of their own – all via the home run ball – to go up 7-2 through four innings of play.