Knizner’s clutch blast ties Harwich, bolsters Gatemen’s playoff hopes

The Wareham Gatemen and the Harwich Mariners ended in a 4-4 tie in 12 innings Tuesday night, thanks to Andrew Knizner’s game-tying solo shot with two outs in the ninth.

Down 4-3 and down to their final out, Knizner jacked a letter-high fastball offering from Spencer Trayner over the left field fence for his first home run of the Cape League season.

The Gatemen left two runners stranded in the 10th, one in the 11th and one in scoring position in the 12th, and thus were unable to plate any runners off the duo of Mariner relievers in Joe DiBenedetto and Sheldon Neuse.

For Wareham, the combination of relievers Ian Hamilton and Shaun Anderson proved more than adept at run prevention, allowing no hits and only three baserunners in the three extra frames.

The Gatemen drew first blood back when the game was in its infant stages, as center fielder Andrew Calica scored on Mark Karaviotis’s RBI single in the first inning. The hit was one of two on the day for Karaviotis, though he departed prematurely after colliding with first baseman Preston Palmeiro in the fifth.

Wareham starter Evan Hill, who entered the game with an outside chance at taking home the CCBL low-ERA crown, saw his ERA shoot from 0.56 to 1.25, as he allowed two runs in the second on gap shot double from Connor Justus and one run in the fifth on a sac-fly from Sheldon Neuse.

The run in the fifth for Harwich tied the score at 3-3, after the Gatemen had taken the lead in the top half of the frame—runs which were scored courtesy of an error from Harwich starter Joe O’Donnell and base running creativity, which featured Karaviotis purposely getting in a rundown to allow Kramer Robertson to score from third.

Harwich wasn’t done, as it recaptured the lead with a run in the seventh.

Ian Hamilton allowed Sheldon Neuse, who reached on a single, to go from first to third on an errant pick-off throw. Neuse then crossed the plate after Hamilton uncorked a wild pitch for what looked to be the deciding run, but then set the stage for Knizner’s high-leverage blast in the top of the ninth.

The unearned run permitted by Hamilton in the seventh was a blip on an otherwise fantastic and gutty extended relief outing. Entering the game in the fifth inning, Hamilton shouldered six innings of one-run relief (which lowered his ERA to 0.76), striking out six and allowing only three hits.

Though the tie for Wareham deadlocks them with Cotuit for fourth place in the Western Division, it undoubtedly bolsters its playoffs hopes, as it’s now 2.5 games and five points ahead of the last place, and losers of six in a row, Falmouth Commodores with five games remaining.

The Gatemen return home on Wednesday and Thursday to host Y-D and then Harwich a final time, in what will be their last two games against the Eastern Division. First pitch for both games is at 7 pm ET.

Follow Jacob Garcia on Twitter @Jake_M_Garcia or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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