Over the past week, Joey Bartosic has been nothing short of an energizer bunny.
In the bottom of the eighth of the Gatemen’s Sunday evening matchup with Cotuit, Bartosic dug into the box with the bases loaded and one out, the score knotted at five apiece. Ketleers pitcher Ryan Rigby, known for his submarine arm slot, spun in a first pitch slider on the outer third of the plate. Bartosic, just looking to put the ball in play, reached out and hit a Baltimore chop over Cotuit first baseman Greyson Jenista bringing in Preston Grand Pre with the go ahead run.
Gatemen closer Jake Matthys came on in the top of the ninth and worked around a two out infield single to earn his seventh save of the year as Wareham (19-14-3) held on for a 6-5 win over Cotuit on a gorgeous Sunday night at Spillane Field.
The win is Wareham’s sixth in a row, and shrinks their magic number to clinch a playoff spot to just one.
Bartosic (2/5, one run, one RBI) said he has just been focused on hitting the ball where it is pitched.
“I’ve definitely been focusing on going the other way and doing what I did back at (George Washington), said Bartosic. “Really just focused on staying back and hitting the ball hard.”
Trailing 4-0 entering the bottom of the fifth, the Gatemen struck for five to take a 5-4 advantage heading into the sixth.
Nico Giarratano got the Gatemen rally started, launching a leadoff double off the center field wall. A wild pitches from Cotuit starter Justin Hooper moved Giarratano to third with nobody out, but Hooper was able to induce consecutive pop ups for the first two outs of the inning.
On his first offering to Cole Freeman, however, Hooper uncorked his second wild pitch of the inning, bringing in Giarratano to get the Gatemen on the board and cut the Kettleers lead to 4-1.
Out of the dugout came Cotuit coach Mike Roberts, immediately making the signal to his bullpen with Hooper one out short of qualifying for a win.Rio Gomez, a left-hander out of Arizona, came on and quickly ran into trouble.
Freeman boosted his hitting-streak up to an even dozen, lining a single into left field. Joey Bartosic, hitting out of the two hole, followed up Freeman’s single with a hit of his own up the middle.
Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Joey Bart stepped to the plate, looking to get the Gatemen firmly back in the ball game.
Bart came through, drilling a change up into the right center-field gap for a two run double to bring the Gatemen back within a run, 4-3.
Roberts made his second pitching change of the inning, this time calling on Connor Simmons in an effort to stop the bleeding.
The attempt proved to be futile.
Simmons entered and proceeded to walk Gavin Sheets and hit Colton Shaver to load the bases.
Adrian Tovalin, filling in for the injured Robbie Metz, came up and immediately fell behind Simmons 0-2.
Tovalin, despite falling behind in the count, hung tough, taking three border-line pitches at the knees to work the count full.
On 3-2, Simmons came in with a fastball on the outer third for a fourth straight time, and this time Tovalin was on top of it, serving it into right field for a two run single, giving Wareham their first lead of the day, 5-4.
Wareham coach Jerry Weinstein said Tovalin just happened to be last in line in an impressive two out rally put on by the Gatemen offense.
“It all started with Freeman and we just happened to keep handing the baton off with him being the last man in the relay to do the damage,” said Weinstein. “We had a number of quality at-bats with two outs, and we ended up scoring five runs in that spot. As usual, we did it all together.”
The Gatemen’s lead proved to be short lived.
Just one half inning later, the Ketleers used a walk and two consecutive two out base hits to tie the score at five off Gatemen reliever Ryan Selmer.
Stephen Pearce drew a walk to begin the inning, moved over to third on a two out single by A.J. Balta and came home to score on an RBI hit courtesy of Tim Susnara
Christian Taugner replaced Selmer on the mound and proved to be Wareham’s most effective pitcher of the day.
The right-hander out of Brown went 2.1 scoreless innings without giving up a hit and only walking one.
In total, Taugner fired in 18 of his 28 pitches for strikes, including 11 of his 17 fastballs.
Weinstein said the biggest difference for Taugner as compared to Selmer was Taugner’s ability to consistently get ahead of opposing hitters.
“(Taugner) filled the strike zone up, plain and simple,” said Weinstein. “He does not have over powering stuff but he changes speeds, has a good contrast, throws a lot of strikes, and when (Cotuit) put the ball in play we make plays.”