In jaw dropping fashion, the Wareham Gatemen season has come to a close.
Leading 7-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Gatemen seemed well on their way to forcing a decisive game 3 at Spillane Field on Sunday evening. The Bourne Braves had other ideas.
Facing Gatemen relievers Christian Taugner, Jake Matthys, and finally Nick Margivicius, the Braves combined to rattle off nine hits in the span of eleven batters, the last a walk-off two run double down the left field off the bat of John Jones as the Braves ended Wareham’s season with an 8-7, come from behind victory.
With the win, Bourne wins the best-of-three first round playoff matchup 2-0, while Wareham is eliminated from postseason play.
Wareham head coach Jerry Weinstein said there was not much his pitching staff could have done differently.
“All the credit goes to them,” said Weinstein. “They hit rocket after rocket. Not many were cheapies, they deserved it.”
In the top half of the ninth inning, Dominic Miroglio – who came in to replace Joey Bart – hit a towering solo home run to left that looked to all but put the finishing touches on the Gatemen’s dominant 7-2 victory.
But in the final half inning of the evening, the Gatemen staff was simply unable to get anybody out.
Jones and Grant Williams lead off the inning with back-to-back singles, putting two on and nobody out.
Pinch hitter Andrew Shaps came to the plate, and on the 1-0 offering from Taugner he unloaded, hitting a three run home run well over the fence in right field to cut the Gatemen lead to 7-5.
Wareham closer Jake Matthys came strolling in, but he too was unable to find a successful formula.
Willy Yahn lifted a hanging breaking ball down the left field line for a double.
After Yahn advanced to third on a passed ball, Matthys was finally able to record the first out of the inning – a pop up courtesy of Evan Mendoza.
Brennan Breaux, however, got the Braves offense started once again, lining a single into left centerfield that scored Yahn and cut Wareham’s advantage to a lone run, 7-6.
Three batters later, with the bases now loaded and Margivicius on the mound – it looked as though Wareham may be on their way to escaping by the skin of their teeth.
Clinging to a one run lead, Margivicius struck out the dangerous Jake Mangum on a fastball on the inside third of the plate for the second out of the frame.
The final out of the game though, as it did on Friday night, eluded the Gatemen once again.
Up to the plate for the second time in the frame was Jones, who looked at a first pitch fastball out of the zone, and on 1-0 drilled one down the left field line for a walk-off double.
“I loved the players,” said Weinstein. “They were terrific kids. Problem free, no issues, they got better. It was just a great summer for everybody.”
Just two innings prior, Adrian Tovalin – not Jones – looked in line to be the difference maker.
The Wareham first baseman in the top of the seventh and the score even at one, belted a two run blast to center-field off the bat of Bourne reliever Ross Rossomando to hand the Gatemen a late, 3-1 edge.
Zachary Pop came out of the bullpen for the Gatemen and fired a scoreless bottom of the seventh inning, giving the Gatemen an opportunity to tack on.
They did just that.
Joey Bart launched his second double of the day, and Gavin Sheets hit an infield single putting runners on the corners with nobody out.
Wareham’s powerful combination of Colton Shaver and Alex Destino followed up by belting run scoring hits into the right centerfield gap to provide what at the time was comfortable 6-1 cushion.
Despite the sudden ending, Wareham’s season still proved to be a successful one. Their 25 wins as a team were the most the Gatemen had secured since 2001, and their 12-2-1 record heading into the playoffs made them one of the hottest teams during the second half of the season.
The Gatemen’s Cole Freeman secured the Thurmon Munson Batting Title, and new head coach Jerry Weinstein was able to get his players to buy into his message from the moment they stepped onto the diamond.
So, while this season’s ending may be a disappointment, it is clear with Weinstein at the helm there is still plenty to look forward to in the Gatemen’s near future.
Writer’s note: Thank you to everyone who followed along all season long. It has been an extreme honor and a privilege to write on behalf of the organization and cover some of the top collegiate athletes in the country. Your readership is truly appreciated, and I look forward to following these players’ careers as they transition into professional baseball. – Matt.