By SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
WAREHAM, MA: Wednesday night felt like déjà vu for Gatemen fans. After leaving nine men on base in their 8-4 loss Tuesday to Hyannis, the Gatemen (1-6) stranded 12 runners in a frustrating 5-4 loss to Falmouth on Wednesday.
The Gatemen had their best offensive performance since their 13-3 win at Chatham last Thursday. They tagged Falmouth’s pitchers for 14 hits, and threatened to put runs on the board in nearly every inning. Unfortunately, they failed to convert those run-scoring opportunities, stranding men in eight out of nine innings, including eight runners in the final four innings of the game.
Wareham grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first after first baseman Nick Halamandaris (UC-Berkeley) doubled down the right field line off Falmouth starting pitcher Kevin McCanna (Rice), scoring second baseman Willie Calhoun (Arizona). Halamandaris finished the game 1-4 with 2 RBIs, while Calhoun went 3-5 with two runs scored.
Head coach Cooper Farris attempted to shake things up by changing around the batting order. Calhoun, who is now hitting .429, led off, followed by designated hitter Keaton Aldridge (Memphis) and centerfielder Jake Little (Memphis), who was the team’s leadoff hitter through the first six games of the summer. The changes appeared to have a positive effect as the top third of the order produced six hits and two runs, but Farris acknowledged that shifting the order was not enough to give the Gatemen the win.
“They’re having better at-bats, but we have to get those guys in to score,” Farris said. “We tried to get things going in the first inning, but we still need to get those two-out hits with runners in scoring position that were lacking all game.”
Falmouth tied the game 1-1 in the second inning on a sacrifice fly from designated hitter Nick Ramos (Indiana). The Commodores chased Wareham starter Brock Downey (Murray State) in the third after centerfielder Tate Matheny (Missouri State) crushed a two-run homer over the left field wall to give Falmouth a 3-1 lead. Downey, the 2014 Ohio Valley Conference Pitcher of the Year, was added to the Wareham roster over the weekend and struggled in his first outing for the Gatemen, allowing four runs in 2.2 innings.
The Gatemen trimmed the deficit to 4-2 when Calhoun came around to score on an RBI groundout to first from Halamandaris in the bottom of the third.
Reliever Scott Effross (Indiana) pitched very well in his summer debut for the Gatemen. In 4.1 innings of relief, Effross only allowed two hits and one run, while striking out two Commodore batters. That one run, which was scored on an RBI single from shortstop Kevin Newman (Arizona) in the sixth, would prove to be costly, however, as the Gatemen failed to bring across the tying run despite numerous opportunities.
A two-out RBI single from catcher Chris Chinea (LSU) cut the deficit to 5-3 in the bottom of the sixth, but the Gatemen left the bases loaded when McCanna got Calhoun to ground out to first base. Chinea came through again for the Gatemen in the bottom of the eighth with a sacrifice fly to left field that brought home shortstop Blake Lacey (USC) and made it a one-run ballgame. Wareham had two men on again with two outs, but Falmouth reliever Chandler Eden (Oregon State) got Little to ground out to second to maintain the lead.
The ninth inning ended what was a very frustrating night at the ballpark for the Gatemen. Halamandaris led off with a single down the left field line, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double. Third baseman Andrew Knizner (NC State) was then hit by a pitch, but Kevin Mooney (Maryland) retired pinch hitter Kyri Washington (Longwood) and Lacey to close out the win for Falmouth.
The Gatemen played a game of catch-up that ultimately ended in defeat when they failed to convert their many opportunities. One big hit in the final four innings could have swung the game in the Gatemen’s favor, but on this night, it just was not meant to be. Chinea described the collective feeling in the clubhouse by providing a very blunt analysis of the team’s performance.
“We battled, we competed, but we fell short,” Chinea said. “We’ll come back tomorrow and pick up the W.”
A bright spot for the Gatemen was their pitching, particularly that of reliever Myles Gentry (Mississippi State). In his first appearance as a member of the Gatemen, Gentry delivered 2.0 innings of no-hit ball, while also striking out one Falmouth batter. The recent performance of Effross, Gentry, and Anthony Kay (UConn) in late-game relief situations has kept Wareham in these games, despite the offense’s struggles.
The Gatemen have an opportunity to end their five-game skid Thursday night at Cotuit (5 p.m. ET) in a make-up game for last Friday’s rainout. With the offense and pitching seemingly headed in the right direction, it is only a matter of time before the Gatemen click for a quality win.
As always, you can watch the live stream of the game by accessing our “Gatemen Pressbox” page. The pre-game show begins around 4:40 p.m. Like the Wareham Gatemen Baseball Facebook page and follow @WarehamGatemen for all the latest news on the team.
Gatemen Player of the Game Charlie Warren