After relying on offense over the last two games, it seemed only fitting that on Tuesday night a Gatemen victory would come via their pitching and defense.
Behind nine combined innings of shutout ball out of Jeff Bain, Nick Sprengel, Ryan Selmer, and Christian Taugner, and an RBI single off the bat of Cole Freeman, Wareham (9-6-1) knocked off Chatham, 1-0, on a cool Tuesday night at Veterans field in Chatham.
Sprengel was without a doubt the star of the night. The left-hander out of San Diego went three perfect innings, striking out seven. Not only did Sprengel show off a lively fastball that hovered between 91 and 94 miles per hour, but he also displayed a devastating slider to hitters on both sides of the plate.
Wareham Coach Jerry Weinstein said the most impressive aspect of Sprengel’s outing was his ability to get both righties and lefties out.
“(Sprengel) dominated all nine guys he faced,” said Weinstein on the left-hander. “There were zero good swings against him. He had terrific location he pounded inside especially well. He was between 91-94 all three innings, just dominated them.“
Robbie Metz, meanwhile, who has spent almost the entirety of this Cape Cod Baseball League season playing the infield got his first start of the year in right field on Tuesday.
Metz made it seem as though he was a career outfielder.
The rising junior out of George Washington made three sensational plays in the outfield that included a running grab up against the fence in the first, and throwing out DJ Artis attempting to stretch a single into a double in the fourth inning.
After the game, Metz noted how his catch in the opening inning gave him confidence for the remainder of the contest,
“The second hitter of the game put one in the gap and I was little surprised about that,” said Metz . “Im just going out there trying to have some fun. Throwing a runner out later in the game was awesome. I have always wanted to show off my arm so that was pretty cool.”
Both starting pitchers – Jeff Bain of Wareham and Andrew Karp of Chatham (8-8) – went toe-to-toe over the first four innings of play, as the two combined to surrender just two hits.
Bain went the first four, surrendering just one hit, walking no on one, and striking out three. All throughout his outing, Bain’s command was terrific throwing 40 of his 50 pitches for strikes.
After Karp kept the Gatemen offense scoreless through the four innings, Isaac Mattson came on in relief and worked around a leadoff hit in the fifth before running into trouble in the sixth.
Wareham’s eight-hitter Harrison Wenson began the frame by launching a leadoff double off the wall in right center field. Nico Giarratano followed up by dropping down a sacrifice bunt to move Wenson over to third with one man down. Two batters later, Cole Freeman came to the plate with an opportunity to put Wareham on top.
Freeman fouled off a fastball on the first pitch he saw, before taking a fastball right down the heart of the plate for strike two.
For a moment, Freeman said he thought he lost his opportunity to come through.
“I was looking for a fastball initially,” said Freeman. “The third baseman was staying back, and I tried to bunt in all four of my at-bats. Then right before I stepped in I thought he would try and spin me something with a runner in scoring position and he ends up throwing a fastball right down the middle. It kind of changed my whole approach.”
As he did all spring long at LSU, Freeman stayed relaxed and continued to compete in the at-bat. He laid off an 0-2 curveball in the dirt for ball one, and on 1-2 served a second consecutive curveball into left for an RBI single, giving Wareham a 1-0 lead.
“Once I got down 0-2 I knew I just had to compete in the at-bat. I was able to stay back and find hole, luckily break it open a little bit,” said Freeman.
The Anglers had a chance to tie the score in the bottom of the eighth off Gatemen reliever Ryan Selmer.
Sean Bouchard greeted Selmer with an opposite field double and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt.
Weinstein, to no ones surprise, called the infield in, looking to cut off the tying run and sure enough the moved paid dividends.
Anglers’ seven hitter Kyle Adams hit a scorching ground ball towards the middle of the diamond. Giarratano, however, was shaded that way and was able to get down on one knee to field the hard grounder, look Bouchard back to third, and throw to first for the second out of the inning.
Selmer proceeded to hit Stuart Fairchild to put runners on the corners, but he retired John Aiello on a fastball looking over the outside edge to retire the side and quell the biggest opportunity the Anglers had all evening.