WAREHAM, MA: – The first seven innings of Saturday night’s CCBL contest between Wareham and Brewster were just as they were billed: a straight-up pitchers’ duel between a pair of aces.
Then, things got interesting.
Leading 1-0 in the top of the eighth inning after a dominant effort from righty starter Anthony Ranaudo, the Whitecaps (9-3) tacked on four runs against the Gatemen (4-8), tagging relievers Jake Davies (Georgia Tech) and Keith Bilodeau (Maine) for four hits to take a commanding 5-0 lead.
Drew Martinez greeted Davies, who relieved starter Matt Barnes (Connecticut) after seven impressive innings—including a season high 14 strikeouts—with a base hit to left. After John Andreoli drew a walk, Bilodeau entered the game with no outs. The runners advanced on a double steal—the Whitecaps had been averaging 2.36 stolen bases per game through Saturday—and Andy Burns connected with a base hit through the drawn-in infield to score the first of four runs in the frame.
Nathan Melendres singled into center to score Andreoli, and then Jeremy Shaffer singled up the middle to score Melendres and Ard. Shaffer also scored the only run off of Barnes back in the top of the fourth inning, when he doubled to left to score Ard, who reached on a walk.
That set the stage for the dramatic finish. After Mike Palazzone relieved Ranaudo in the bottom of the seventh, Wareham was held scoreless until the bottom of the ninth. Right-handed reliever Colton Murray came on to face pinch-hitter Jerrud Sabourin (Indiana), who greeted him with a base hit down the left field line. A throwing error by Martinez from left allowed Sabourin to advance all the way to third, prompting a string of sloppy plays by the Whitecaps.
With one out and Sabourin at third, Jonathan Smith (Tenn.-Wesleyan) advanced to first on a throwing error by short stop Kurt Singer, scoring Dickerson and pushing Smith to second. Then, George Springer (Connecticut) struck out for what should have been the second out, but a wild pitch on the third strike allowed him to reach first and moved Smith to third.
That brought up Alex Dickerson (Indiana), who had the only hit—an opposite field double in the fourth—off Ranaudo, singled into left to score Smith, but the second throwing error of the inning by Martinez—third overall—allowed Springer to score from first, as Dickerson wound up at third.
But with the tying run at the plate, Wareham ran out of magic. Chris Walker (Fordham) struck out swinging, and Max Muncy (Baylor) flew out to center field to end the game.
For seven innings, though, it was all about the guys on the hill.
Ranaudo went 6.2 innings, settling in after struggling with his command to start off, and cruising at the tune of eight strikeouts, one hit and one walk as he kept the Gatemen from getting a runner into scoring position.
Barnes matched him every step of the way. Except for the one mistake pitch to Shaffer in the fourth, the Bethel, Conn., native was superb. His 14 strikeouts were the most for a Gatemen starter this season, one day after Jed Bradley (Georgia Tech) set the mark at 11 in a complete game win against Hyannis. Barnes also allowed four hits and walked one while lowering his ERA to 2.18 on the season.
Barnes will make one more start before departing for the Team USA tryouts at the beginning of July.
Wareham, meanwhile, will look to bounce back tomorrow afternoon in a doubleheader against Chatham at Veterans Field. First pitch is set for 4 p.m.