By SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
WAREHAM, MA: With one out and the tying and go-ahead runs on base in the top of the eighth, Ryan Olson (San Diego) stepped into an unfamiliar situation.
In his first career save opportunity, Olson got Cotuit pinch hitter Brendan Hendriks (San Francisco) to hit a ball back to the mound. The San Diego right-hander picked the ball and fired it to Blake Lacey (USC) at second, who then threw a strike to Nick Halamandaris (UC-Berkeley) at first base. The 1-6-3 double play allowed the Gatemen (6-11) to maintain their slim 7-6 lead, which would ultimately be the final score of the ballgame.
Olson returned for the ninth inning and set down the Kettleers to give the Gatemen their second consecutive win. He capped his performance by getting Cotuit catcher Ian Rice (Chipola) to look at strike three on the outside corner of the plate to end the game.
“It was a big relief,” Olson said. “I came in and trusted my defense. I was pumped after getting that double play. I knew that we would win the game after that. That was my first ever career save, so it felt good to be able to close out a win.”
The Gatemen grabbed an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second courtesy of a couple fielding miscues by the Kettleers. Centerfielder Jake Little (Memphis) reached base on an infield single that second baseman Caleb Whalen (Portland) could not corral. Third baseman Danny Rosenbaum (Louisville) then put runners at the corners when a routine groundball skipped between Whalen’s legs. An RBI single to left-centerfield from left fielder Charlie Warren (Rice) plated Little, while Rosenbaum scored on a sacrifice fly from right fielder Corey Ray (Louisville).
Wareham starting pitcher Jake Kalish (George Mason) cruised through his first two innings of the summer, setting down the first six batters he faced. With two outs in the top of the third, the Gatemen were burned by poor defensive plays and missed pitching locations. Cotuit third baseman Logan Taylor (Texas A&M) drilled a 3-2 pitch from Kalish over the right-centerfield wall to tie the game 2-2.
A throwing error and a four-pitch walk put runners at the corners and brought first baseman Austin Byler (Nevada) to the plate. The Gatemen had a chance to escape the inning when Whalen was caught in a pickle at second base. Instead, a throwing error allowed right fielder Rhett Wiseman (Vanderbilt) to cross the plate to give the Kettleers a 3-2 lead. Byler fouled off four consecutive pitches, before crushing a two-run homer to right field to increase Cotuit’s lead to 5-2. What began as a promising first start for Kalish unfortunately devolved into a rough outing courtesy of Cotuit’s timely hitting and base running.
To their credit, the Gatemen offense battled back to tie the game 5-5 in the bottom of the fourth. After Warren and Rosenbaum singled to lead off the inning, catcher John Bormann (UT-San Antonio) laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt that put the two runners in scoring position. Warren scored on an RBI single up the middle from Ray, and second baseman Willie Calhoun (Arizona) followed up with a single to right field that brought home Rosenbaum and Ray to even the score.
Jake Little put the Gatemen ahead 6-5 in the bottom of the fifth when he crushed the first pitch he saw from reliever Ashton Perritt (Liberty) into the Cotuit bullpen. Little was 2-3 with two runs scored and an RBI on the night, and came up in a big way for the Gatemen when they needed him most.
The Gatemen picked up an additional run in the bottom of the sixth when Calhoun scored on a sacrifice fly to the warning track from designated hitter Keaton Aldridge (Memphis). Calhoun led off the sixth with his league-leading 12th double of the season. Head Coach Cooper Farris praised the Arizona infielder for natural hitting technique.
“He keeps his hands back a long time and gets great extension through the plate,” Farris said. “Everything he hits, he has a chance to do something with.”
The Wareham bullpen got the job done to close out the win for the Gatemen. Ryan Williamson (NC State), Nick Fuller (UMass Dartmouth), Anthony Kay (Connecticut), and Olson combined to throw 6.1 innings of relief, allowing only two hits and one run down the stretch to close out the game. For a bullpen that has struggled to close out recent games, the strong combined performance was refreshing for Olson and Co.
“It feels a lot better to be on the other side,” Olson said. “Losing those one-run games can be heartbreaking, but winning them is a great feeling. Hopefully, we can get a few more.”
The Gatemen have an opportunity to put together their first three-game winning streak of the season Monday night when they face off against the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox at Spillane Field (7 p.m. ET). After dropping a heartbreaking 9-8 game in extra innings to the Red Sox Wednesday, the Gatemen would love to deliver a little payback Monday night.
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.
“Coop’s Scoop” – Post Game Interview with Manager Cooper Farris