By SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
CHATHAM, MA: “Something triggered tonight to make me pitch a little bit better and give me a little more adrenaline. It was fun to pitch.”
In his final start of the 2014 summer, Brock Hartson turned in a world-class outing on the mound for the Wareham Gatemen. Every out that the UT-San Antonio starter recorded was crucial, as the Gatemen (8-17) rallied late and eked out a 2-1 victory over the Chatham Anglers at Veterans Field Wednesday night.
Hartson followed up an impressive start from teammate Drew Harrington (Louisville) Tuesday night against the Brewster Whitecaps with an absolutely dominant performance on the mound in Chatham. In 7.0 innings of work, he allowed only three hits and one run, while striking out 11 Angler batters.
The most striking aspect of Hartson’s outing was the command and consistency he showed throughout the ballgame with all three of his pitches. The UT-San Antonio right-hander painted the corners of the strike zone all night and recorded five first-pitch outs as he moved efficiently through the Chatham lineup. He also started off Chatham batters with an 0-2 count on an incredible 12 separate occasions.
“That’s the key to getting outs,” Hartson said. “If you can get ahead on guys and can throw whatever you want, whenever you want, your chances of being successful skyrocket.”
The Anglers grabbed the game’s first run, and their only run of the ballgame, in the bottom of the third on a solo home run off the bat of third baseman Mitch Gunsolus (Gonzaga). In his first game since being reactivated by Chatham, Gunsolus drilled a first-pitch, leadoff homer off Hartson to the top of the hill beyond the right field wall at Veterans Field.
Gunsolus’ solo shot really was the only blip in an otherwise fantastic performance from Hartson. The Anglers threatened with runners at first and second with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, but Hartson calmly set down Chatham right fielder and cleanup hitter Chris Shaw (Boston College) on three consecutive pitches.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Anglers again put two runners on base, this time with one out. Now working with a 2-1 lead, Hartson struck out second baseman Kevin Fagan (Stetson) and got centerfielder Landon Cray (Seattle) to pop out to left field to escape Chatham’s most serious threat.
The Gatemen offense struggled again as they tallied only six total hits, but they did leave 10 men on base for the second consecutive game. They left the bases loaded in the top of the fifth and two men on base in the top of the sixth against Chatham starter Jordan Hillyer (Kennesaw State). Hillyer was fantastic in 6.0 innings of work, allowing only three hits while striking out six Gatemen batters to preserve the slim 1-0 lead for the Anglers.
The Gatemen bats finally came alive in the top of the seventh against reliever Zack Burdi (Louisville). Catcher John Bormann (UT-San Antonio) led off the frame by crushing a ball to the right field wall that Shaw misplayed. Bormann advanced to third base with no outs, as Charlie Warren (Rice) stepped into the box to pinch-hit for Corey Ray (Louisville). Warren delivered with an excellent at-bat, fouling off multiple pitches from Burdi before eventually reaching base with a walk.
An RBI groundout from second baseman Willie Calhoun (Arizona) brought in Bormann to tie the game 1-1 and moved Warren to second with one out. Warren advanced to third on a sacrifice fly from shortstop Blake Lacey (USC) and found himself ninety feet from the plate with designated hitter Chris Chinea (LSU) stepping to the plate.
Chinea came through in yet another clutch scenario for the Gatemen, lining a two-out RBI single to right field to give Wareham a 2-1 lead. For a team that has struggled to find big hits when they need them most, Chinea’s RBI single certainly felt like an incredible weight had been lifted off their shoulders.
After the Gatemen squandered an opportunity to plate insurance runs with runners at second and third and no outs in the top of the eighth, Anthony Kay (Connecticut) entered the ballgame in relief of Hartson. He set down the Anglers in order in the bottom of the eighth and returned to close out the game in the ninth. Kay recorded two outs, but a walk to Gunsolus put the tying and go-ahead runners on base with Fagan coming to the plate.
The Gatemen made the call to the bullpen for newly acquired southpaw Jason Richman (Georgia Southern) to record the final out. Richman got ahead of Fagan 0-1, and then got the Chatham second baseman to tap a groundball back to the mound to end the ballgame. Richman was satisfied with his execution on the mound in a tight spot for the Gatemen.
“I saw a lefty-lefty matchup and just wanted to go down in the zone and throw strikes,” Richman said. “Thankfully, we were able to execute and make a play.”
After a tough three-game losing streak, Head Coach Cooper Farris acknowledged the importance of the team’s win.
“This was big,” Farris said. “The guys are still fighting. It was just becoming a case where so many bad things had happened in a row that you think it will keep happening. They fought through tonight and that’s what you need to do to win ballgames.”
The win would not have been possible without the outstanding effort of Hartson, who will be returning to Texas for the remainder of the summer after a long season at UT-San Antonio and an excellent month in Wareham. Hartson expressed his feelings about his Cape League experience following the game.
“I was so excited to have this experience,” Hartson said. “The Cape is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and to just come out here and compete against some of the best players in the country has been a lot of fun.”
The Gatemen have a well earned off day on Thursday, and will be back in action Friday night at Spillane Field for a matchup with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (7 p.m. ET). Only three games separate the two teams for the final playoff spot in the Western Division, so the Gatemen can really capitalize with a win Friday 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” – Postgame interview with Manager Cooper Farris – Click below to listen to interview
Gatemem Player of the Game Brock Hartson (UT-San Antonio) – Click below to listen to interview
Gatemen Highlighst from the Gatemen Broadcast Team