SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
WAREHAM, MA: On Wednesday night, three Gatemen pitchers combined to toss eight perfect innings. In nearly every scenario imaginable, eight innings of three-up, three-down baseball should foreshadow good things to come for that team.
Due to their continued offensive drought and a single imperfect inning, the Gatemen (11-24-1) found a way to drop the game, as they fell 3-0 to the Hyannis Harbor Hawks at Spillane Field. In the biggest two-game stretch of their season, the Gatemen failed to plate a single run in eighteen innings against the Harbor Hawks. Hyannis’ back-to-back shutouts allowed them to pull seven points ahead of the Gatemen as the regular season winds down to its final week.
Kyle Cody (Kentucky) got the start for the Gatemen, and tossed one inning in lieu of his scheduled bullpen session. He mowed down the Harbor Hawks in order in the first, picking up two strikeouts.
Sean Adler (USC) entered the game in the second inning and picked up right where Cody left off. He retired the first 15 batters he faced, as he and Cody combined to throw 6.0 perfect innings. Wareham Head Coach Cooper Farris was impressed with Adler’s ability to mix up his pitches to constantly keep the Hyannis batters on their toes.
“Sean threw three pitches for strikes,” Farris said. “I thought his changeup and curveball were really good tonight but that hit-and-run caught us off guard.”
The hit-and-run to which Farris referred to came during the top of the seventh, after the Harbor Hawks finally broke through with their first base runners of the ballgame. With runners at first and second and one out, Hyannis first baseman Carl Wise (Charleston) executed a hit-and-run play to perfection. As Jose Cuas (Maryland) shifted to cover third base, Wise ripped a ball through the hole where Cuas had just been standing and into left field. Left fielder Daniel Kihle (Wichita State) crossed the plate to give Hyannis a 1-0 lead.
With two outs in the frame, third baseman John La Prise (Virginia) lined an RBI single up the middle that brought around two more Hyannis runners to increase their lead to 3-0.
The three runs proved to be all Hyannis would need, as the Gatemen bats remained silent against the Harbor Hawks. Starting pitcher Blake Hickman (Iowa) shutdown the Gatemen in 6.1 innings of work, allowing just four hits while striking out five. Wareham assembled its best threat against Hickman in the bottom of the fourth when the Gatemen put runners at the corners with two outs. However, the Iowa right-hander got Cuas to pop out to first to escape the inning unscathed.
Trailing 3-0, the Gatemen brought the tying run to the plate in both the eighth and ninth innings, but they were unable to convert their opportunities into runs. Farris said that the team’s mindset in the batter’s box is likely the cause of their offensive woes.
“Two days in a row, we had poor at-bats,” Farris said. “We didn’t really grind in those at-bats and swung at pitches over our heads. Guys are just trying to do too much at the plate and that has been our problem.
“I think it’s the mentality going into the at-bats. We were way too big going into the game and we tried to tone it down a little bit, but we couldn’t do it. We’re just not locked in mentally. We wanted to win, but we just tried to do too much.”
With only eight games remaining in the regular season, Farris knows what his team has to do in order to confront the daunting task ahead of them.
“Now is really when you find out who the baseball players are,” Farris said. “They’re either going to keep competing or shut it down. It’s all about what’s inside you.”
The Gatemen have an off-day Thursday and will be back in action Friday night when they travel to Cotuit for a matchup with the Kettleers (5 p.m. ET). Now trailing Hyannis by seven points for the final playoff spot in the Western Division, Wareham desperately needs to overcome their offensive woes and rattle off wins in the final week of the season to have any shot at a postseason run.
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.