The Gatemen were a lone bounce away from a game one win.
Leading 4-3 in the top of the ninth, Wareham closer Jake Matthys toed the rubber with runners on the corners and two men down. Bourne’s Brennan Breaux on a 3-2 pitch got a change-up and hit it sharply towards first. Wareham first baseman Gavin Sheets seemed to have a beat on it, but it kicked off his glove and trickled away allowing Jake Mangum to come across with the tying run.
In the top half of the tenth, Mangum came through, drilling a two out single to give the Braves their first lead of the day. On came Braves closer John Escobar, and within the blink of an eye he struck out the side, handing the Braves a 5-4 win on Friday at Spillane Field.
Bourne (22-21-2, 1-0) now leads the best-of-three series 1-0 in round one of the Cape Cod Baseball League playoffs. Game two is tomorrow evening at 6:00pm at Doran Park.
Wareahm coach Jerry Weinstein said the Gatemen simply got outplayed.
“They played well,” said Weinstein. “Their team played good. They did what they had to do and we did not.
The Braves slowly chipped away at was once a 4-1 Wareham lead in the top half of the seventh. Bourne scored a lone run in each of the final four innings of play before ultimately coming out on top, 5-4.
Wareham struck first in the bottom half of the fifth due to the work of Cape Cod Baseball League Thurmon Munson Batting champion, Cole Freeman.
After the first two Gatemen were retired to begin the inning, Nico Giarratano drilled a two out double into the right centerfield gap. Robbie Metz followed up by hitting an infield single into the shortstop hole, putting runners on the corners with two men down.
Freeman stepped to the plate, and on a 1-2 pitch hit a slow dribbler towards Braves third baseman Willy Yahn. Yahn came charging in, barehanded the grounder and threw on the run, but Freeman was too quick, beating Yahn’s throw by half a stride to give Wareham the early 1-0 advantage.
Just one half inning later, it was Freeman again – this time showcasing his abilities in the field – that prevented the Braves from taking the lead.
A Yahn single had just tied the game at one, and with Gatemen start Brett Conine out of the game and reliever Ryan Wilson in the game the Braves saw an opportunity to jump in front.
On the 1-0 offering from Wilson, Evan Mendoza lined a soft liner towards center field. Freeman, playing towards the hole, ranged to his right, taking one step and going into the dive for the second out of the frame.
Just moments later, Freeman one upped his diving snag with an even more impressive play, this time laying out full extension to save a potential extra base hit off the bat of Yurchak to keep the game tied at one.
“We did a lot of good things,” said Weinstein. “Our world class second baseman made two tremendous plays in that one inning, otherwise it could have been a boat race.”
Wareham appeared to be well on their way to a comfortable win when they answered the Braves run with three of their own in the bottom half of the sixth.
Joey Bart lead off the frame by doubling down the right field line, and a Gavin Sheets single into right center field gave the Gatemen runners on the corners with nobody out.
Two batters later, Joey Bartosic put Gatemen back in front, lining a single into the shortstop hole that scored Bart with the go-ahead run.
Brendan Little, a left handed reliever out of North Carolina, was brought in and Weinstein countered by calling on Adrian Tovalin to pinch hit.
The move panned out.
Tovalin skied a two run double into center-field that Braves’ outfielder Brennan Breaux lost in the lights, scoring Sheets and Bartosic to increase the Gatemen lead to 4-1.
Bourne, however, continued to chip away.
Dave MacKinnon brought home a run with a run scoring double in the top of the seventh to cut the Braves deficit to 4-2.
Braves reliever Sean Leland came on in with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, and induced a ground out off the bat of Bartosic to strand the bases loaded and keep his team in the game.
Leland was rewarded for his efforts as a Mendoza double gave the Braves second and third with one man down in the top half of the eighth causing Weinstein to signal for his closer Jake Matthys for a five out save.
Matthys surrendered a sacrifice fly off the bat of Yurchak, but was able to induce a fly ball off the bat of Connor Wong to keep Wareham ahead, 4-3, as the game turned to the ninth inning.