By SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
WAREHAM, MA: “Today we excelled in all aspects of the game. We just beat them. We beat them, which is a great feeling.”
These words from Wareham first baseman Nick Halamandaris (UC-Berkeley) are representative of the collective feeling in the Gatemen clubhouse following an 8-3 win Thursday night at Cotuit.
The Gatemen (2-6) finally got the monkey off their back and ended their five-game losing streak by turning in their most complete performance since their 13-3 win at Chatham last Thursday. After a few disappointing losses, the offense finally got some timely hitting and tallied 15 total hits, while starting pitcher Brock Hartson (UT-San Antonio) kept the Kettleers at bay with his excellent control on the mound.
Wareham jumped out to an early three run lead in the top of the second, and never looked back. After third baseman Andrew Knizner (NC State) doubled to lead off the inning, second baseman Kramer Robertson (LSU) beat out a throw for an infield single to put runners at the corners. Catcher John Bormann (UT-San Antonio) hit a ball deep into the hole at shortstop for an infield single that plated Knizner from third. Shortstop Blake Lacey (USC) followed that up by ripping a two-run double to right field, giving the Gatemen a 3-0 lead.
It appeared that the Gatemen would go down quietly in the top of the third inning when Cotuit reliever Garrett Hayward (Duke) quickly retired the first two batters. However, the Gatemen got the timely two-out hitting that had been missing throughout their five-game skid, and brought around three more runs. Right fielder Anderson Miller (Western Kentucky) beat out a throw from Cotuit shortstop Kyle Holder (San Diego) for an infield single and promptly stole second base. Robertson worked a full count against Hayward and brought around Miller to score on a base hit up the middle. The LSU infielder finished the night 3-5 with 2 runs scored and an RBI.
After Bormann walked, Lacey came up to the plate in a familiar situation. He delivered similar results, crushing another two-run double, this time to deep left field. The USC shortstop finished the night 2-5 with 4 RBIs, and gave the Gatemen a 6-1 lead that they would not relinquish. Lacey was satisfied with his personal performance, but took more pride in the way his teammates rallied together.
“I knew this was the game to do it,” Lacey said. “The whole team was fired up. When we string some hits together, we can be a really good offensive team.”
Gatemen Player of the Game Blake Lacey (USC)
Small ball allowed the Gatemen to bring in two more insurance runs in the top of the sixth. A sacrifice bunt from centerfielder Jake Little (Memphis) put runners at second and third with one out. Halamandaris’ sacrifice fly brought home second baseman Willie Calhoun (Arizona). Knizner’s single up the middle scored left fielder Charlie Warren (Rice) and put the game out of reach, as the Gatemen took an 8-1 lead.
Hartson took care of the rest for the Gatemen. You had a feeling it would be a good night for the UT-San Antonio right-hander when he tossed a 1-2-3, 12-pitch first inning that included two strikeouts. Throughout the night, Hartson was locked in with his battery mate, college teammate, and best friend John Bormann.
“It’s been great,” Hartson said. “We don’t have to figure out what we need to do. Being able to throw to him for the past two and a half years definitely gives me an advantage.
“We might be the only two on the Cape that get to do that. We have the same mindset going into each pitch, so it’s a lot of fun.”
Hartson’s command, particularly with his changeup, was on full display in Cotuit as he moved efficiently and effectively through the Kettleer lineup. He made only two mistakes all night, leaving changeups up in the zone to two of Cotuit’s power hitters. Right fielder Logan Taylor (Texas A&M) took Hartson deep in the second to cut the Wareham lead to 3-1. First baseman Austin Byler (Nevada Reno) hit a towering shot over the right-field fence in the bottom of the sixth to trim the Wareham lead to 8-3, but that was as close as Cotuit would get. Hartson recognized his mistakes but quickly forgot them as he mowed down the Kettleer lineup.
“If I was executing my pitches down in the zone, I felt like I had the advantage against these guys,” Hartson said. “The two pitches I left up, they took total advantage of. After each home run, I knew I didn’t do my job, but I tried to just bounce back and get the next guys out.”
Postgame interview with Brock Hartson (UT-San Antonio)-
Bounce back, he did. After the first homer, Hartson retired the next two batters in quick succession. With no outs in the sixth, he followed up Byler’s home run by setting down three Cotuit batters in order, two by way of the K. In six innings of work, Hartson allowed six hits and only three runs, while striking out seven and walking only one.
Halamandaris had nothing put praise for his team’s starting pitcher.
“Today, Brock came out and just threw strikes, and that was really big for us,” Halamandaris said. “Yes, we scored early, but he was there for us the whole way, which helped us piece it all together.”
Left-hander Anthony Kay (Connecticut) turned in another excellent relief performance, closing out the game with 3.0 shutout innings. He allowed only two hits, while striking out four batters.
Farris expressed a mixture of joy and relief following his team’s well-earned victory.
“It’s just a big load off,” Farris said. “I’m just proud of the guys. We’ve been swinging the bats well, and we just need to keep doing what we’re doing.”
“Coop’s Scoop” – Postgame interview with Manager Cooper Farris
Halamandaris said that the win will only be the start of something special for the Gatemen.
“You get into the rhythm of the game,” Halamandaris said, “and when you keep stroking it and putting hits together, it can be special. We’ve got the pieces, we just have to come together. Today, we did a really good job of piecing it together.
“Fortunately, in summer ball you play every day so it’s easier to stay in rhythm. We just need to keep doing what we’re doing, keep the same mindset, and just keep stroking it.”
The Gatemen will look to string together back-to-back wins for the first time this season when they visit the Western Division-leading Harbor Hawks in Hyannis Friday night (6 p.m. ET). Wareham will have an opportunity to avenge the 8-4 loss they suffered at the hands of Hyannis Tuesday at Spillane Field.
As always, you can watch the live stream of the game by accessing our “Gatemen Pressbox” page. The pre-game show begins around 5:40 p.m. Like the Wareham Gatemen Baseball Facebook page and follow @WarehamGatemen for all the latest news on the team.