ORLEANS, MA: The story of the game through 6 innings was the starting pitching performance by Kurt McCune (LSU) as he took a no-hitter into the 7th inning; the best start of the season for the Wareham Gatemen pitching staff. As impressive as that was, a pair of 2 run homers and 4 rbi for Daniel Palka (Georgia Tech) was the difference in the game as the Gatemen took a 7-4 win over the Eastern Division leading Orleans Firebirds before a large, Friday night crowd of 2,701 at Eldredge Park.
Before McCune threw a pitch, the Gatemen jumped all over Orleans starting pitcher Brandon McNitt (Stony Brook). Tyler Horan (Virginia Tech) delivered the first Wareham run on an rbi single up the middle to score Cole Sturgeon. (Louisviille) After a sacrafice fly by Ty Ross (LSU( and with 2 outs, Daniel Palka delivered his first of two homers on the night – this one an opposite field shot that put the Gatemen ahead 4-0.
Kurt McCune took the hill with a 4-0 lead and quietly dominated the Orleans lineup. Through 6 innings, the only blemish on his stat line was a second inning walk to Conrad Gregor (Vanderbilt) and only other runner to reach base did so on an infield error. McCune methodically worked his way throught he Firebird’s lineup; inducing 8 groundball outs & spotting 4 strikeouts.
The Gatemen added a run in the 3rd inning on a leadoff homer by Tyler Horan (Virginia Tech). The round tripper was Horan’s 5th on the season and ties him for 3rd in the league. Tyler Horan and Daniel Palka both participated in the College Homerun Derby in Omaha, NE earlier in the week and are proving worthy of that invitation. In the top of the seventh inning, Palka crushed his second homerun of the night – his 6th of the season – and Wareham took a commanding 7-0 lead in support of the McCune no-hit bid.
The no-hitter was broken up by Reed Gragnani (Virginia) to lead off the 7th inning. McCune was the recipient of a nice round of applause by the Orleans faithful at Eldredge Park. Their applause would turn to the Firebirds offense, however, as Gragnani’s hit was followed up by a double to centerfield by JT Riddle (Kentucky). A sacrafice fly by Conrad Gregor (Vanderbilt) spoiled the shutout but the following two-run homer by Matt Rossiter (Arizona State) made this a game as the Firebirds closed the score to 7-3.
Colby Suggs (Arkansas) took over for Wareham in the 8th inning. He allowed a run on a wild pitch in the 8th but that is as close as the Firebirds would get as the Gatemen secured the 7-4 win.
The win was only the 2nd for the Gatemen vs. an Eastern Division team this season and their overall record improves to 10-9. Wareham remains in second place behind Falmouth and the Cotuit Kettleers, Saturday night’s opponent at Spillane Field, is only 2 points behind the Gatemen in third place.