SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
WAREHAM, MA: The Falmouth Commodores left 15 men on base Friday night at Spillane Field. On a typical night, one would figure that those missed opportunities would cost them the ballgame.
Well, Friday was anything but a typical night in Wareham, as the Commodores rallied to pick up a 5-3 win over the struggling Gatemen (9-22). Trailing 3-1, the Gatemen responded to tie the game in the bottom of the eighth, but they would cough up the game in the top of the ninth and go on to drop their fifth straight.
The Gatemen took advantage of some fielding mistakes by the Commodores to jump out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Centerfielder Jake Little (Memphis) led off with an infield single that bounced off the glove of Falmouth second baseman Matthew Eureste (San Jacinto College). Little was then caught in a pickle at first, but advanced to second when the Commodores threw the ball away. He advanced to third base on a wild pitch from Falmouth starter Alex Young (TCU), and finally came around to score on an RBI single from third baseman Jose Cuas (Maryland).
The bats went silent in the middle innings against Young as the Falmouth starter settled into his outing. In the bottom of the sixth, the Gatemen looked like they had a serious threat brewing after the first two batters reached base. Young calmly retired the next three batters in quick succession to maintain what was then a 3-1 lead for the Commodores. In 6.0 innings of work, he allowed just six hits while striking out four Wareham batters.
In his first start since joining the Gatemen this past week, Sean Adler (USC) looked solid on the mound Friday night. In 4.0 innings, he allowed four hits and two runs, while striking out five Commodores. He did struggle with his command and walked four Falmouth batters throughout his outing.
After working his way out of a bases loaded, no-out jam in the top of the third, Adler found himself facing yet another bases loaded scenario in the top of the fourth, this time with two outs. Adler was unable to escape this jam unharmed, as Eureste lined a two-out RBI single up the middle that brought in catcher Austin Afenir (Oral Roberts) and first baseman Jake Madsen (Ohio) to give the Commodores a 2-1 lead.
Anthony Kay (Connecticut) entered the game in relief for Adler in the top of the fifth and found himself with runners at the corners and one out in the inning. A fielder’s choice from Afenir plated another run to increase Falmouth’s lead to 3-1.
To the Gatemen’s credit, they kept battling and rallied with a pair of runs off Falmouth’s relief pitchers. Cuas led off the bottom of the seventh with a single to the gap in right-centerfield and moved over to third on an infield single from right fielder Anderson Miller (Western Kentucky). He crossed the plate on a 4-6-3 double play from shortstop Blake Lacey (USC) to cut the score to 3-2. Then, with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, Jake Little delivered with a clutch RBI double to the centerfield wall to even the score at 3-3.
Just as things were looking up for the Gatemen, the Commodores capitalized in the top of the ninth to erase the Wareham rally. Falmouth put runners on the corners with two outs against Wareham reliever Jason Richman (Georgia Southern) as right fielder Conor Costello (Oklahoma State) stepped to the plate. On a 2-2 pitch, Costello drilled a ball into the right-centerfield gap that rolled to the wall and completely eliminated Wareham’s momentum.
Costello’s two-out, two-run triple put the Commodores up 5-3 and the Gatemen would go down quietly against Falmouth closer Matt Eckleman (Saint Louis) in the bottom of the ninth to drop their fifth straight game.
The Commodores stranded 15 runners on base in the game and left the bases loaded on three separate occasions. Escaping so many sticky situations without harm had to feel like a win for the Gatemen, but ultimately they were playing with too much fire and it came back to eventually burn them in the top of the ninth. Wareham Head Coach Cooper Farris said his players only have themselves to blame for their struggles.
“They had the bases loaded in three innings which put a lot of pressure on us,” Farris said, “but we did it to ourselves. We kicked it around and the errors hurt.
“These guys have to figure out a way to do this. At some point, you have to play like your rear end is on fire.”
Wareham missed an opportunity Friday night to gain some ground in the Western Division, but they have another chance to get back in the win column Saturday against the Bourne Braves (7 p.m. ET). A win over the division-leading Braves has the potential to be a spark for this struggling Gatemen team.
As always, you can watch the live stream of the game by accessing our “Gatemen Pressbox” page. The pre-game show begins around 6:40 p.m. Like the Wareham Gatemen Baseball Facebook page and follow @WarehamGatemen for all the latest news on the team.