SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
COTUIT, MA: The Wareham Gatemen lineup has produced two runs in each of the last three games. The Gatemen won the first two games, but eventually their offensive woes were going to catch up to them.
Their struggles came back to bite them Saturday night at Lowell Park as the Gatemen (9-18) left nine men on base and coughed up a late lead in a 5-2 loss to Cotuit. The Kettleers exploded for four runs on two home runs in the bottom of the eighth to spoil another terrific performance from starting pitcher Kyle Cody (Kentucky) and prevent the Gatemen from picking up a third consecutive win.
For the third consecutive Saturday, Cody was fantastic on the mound for Wareham, tossing 6.0 shutout innings and allowing only four hits. The big Kentucky hurler continued to exhibit great command on the mound and did not walk a single batter while picking up three strikeouts.
Cotuit’s most serious threat against Cody came in the bottom of the fourth when the Kettleers put runners at first and second with one out. Cody shut down the next two batters, one by way of the K, and preserved Wareham’s 1-0 lead at the time. Wareham Head Coach Cooper Farris was pleased with yet another great start from the ace of his pitching staff.
“Kyle had another great day,” Farris said. “He was a little off and wasn’t pounding the zone as much as he has been, but he pitched through it and did a great job.”
The Gatemen grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning off Cotuit starter Trey Wingenter (Auburn). Centerfielder Charlie Warren (Rice) worked a great at-bat to reach base with a one-out walk. Wingenter may have had a chance to escape the frame unscathed when third baseman Jose Cuas (Maryland) lined a ball at Cotuit shortstop Drew Jackson (Stanford), but Jackson bobbled the ball and both runners were safe.
Left fielder Corey Ray (Louisville) then came through with an RBI double to deep left-centerfield that brought in Warren to give Wareham the early lead. Wingenter did settle down to retire the next two Gatemen batters and leave two runners in scoring position.
Ray led off the top of the fifth with his second double of the ballgame, this one down the left field line. After second baseman Kramer Robertson (LSU) walked, shortstop Blake Lacey (USC) moved the runners over into scoring position. First baseman Nick Halamandaris (UC-Berkeley) delivered with a two-out RBI single that plated Ray to give Wareham a 2-0 lead, but the Gatemen would go on to leave the bases loaded in the frame.
Runners left on base would be the name of the game for the Gatemen, as they would strand nine men, including multiple runners in four separate innings. With a slim 2-1 lead, the Gatemen had runners at first and second with no outs and then runners at second and third with two outs in the top of the eighth. The team was unable to plate runs in either scenario, which would end up costing them the game. Farris acknowledged that his team had multiple chances to put the game away but failed to do so in several ways.
“We made a lot of base running mistakes and we didn’t swing the bat well with runners in scoring position,” Farris said. “We left runners out there and didn’t get a bunt down, so there are a lot of things you can point to.”
The Kettleers cut into the 2-0 Wareham lead in the bottom of the seventh with a leadoff, solo home run from catcher Tres Barrera (Texas) off reliever Brock Downey (Murray State). Anthony Kay (Connecticut) came on in relief for the bottom of the eighth and surrendered a leadoff bomb to designated hitter John Norwood (Vanderbilt) that easily cleared the centerfield wall and tied the game at 2-2.
After two Cotuit batters reached base with one out, the Gatemen made the call to the bullpen for Jason Richman (Georgia Southern). The tall southpaw recorded the second out of the inning as third baseman Brendan Hendriks (San Francisco) stepped to the plate. Down 0-1, Hendriks launched a no-doubter, three-run homer deep over the right field wall to give Cotuit a 5-2 lead and crush Wareham’s hopes for a third straight victory.
The Gatemen went quietly in the ninth and were left to wonder what could have been. After the game, Farris reminded his team that there is still a lot of baseball left to be played.
“We have to play again tomorrow,” Farris said. “That’s the nature of the beast. We can’t sit here and feel sorry for ourselves. We have to swing ourselves out of this thing. We just need to turn our game up a little bit and play.”
Ray, who was 2-4 with a pair of doubles on the night, expressed a similar positive outlook following the loss.
“We just have to keep grinding,” Ray said. “It’s a grind and a long season. We’ve come up against some good pitchers, and we just have to keep hitting and try not to do too much.
“Let’s just get one more. If we get that one tomorrow, we’ll be fine.”
The Gatemen will have an opportunity to rebound Sunday night when they travel to Hyannis for a rematch with the Harbor Hawks (6 p.m. ET). Only two games back of Hyannis for fourth place in the Western Division, a second win this weekend over the Harbor Hawks would keep Wareham in the playoff hunt.
As always, you can watch the live stream of the game by accessing our “Gatemen Pressbox” page. The pre-game show begins around 5:40 p.m. Like the Wareham Gatemen Baseball Facebook page and follow @WarehamGatemen for all the latest news on the team.