As Colton Shaver prepares for the Cape Cod Baseball League home run hitting contest on Saturday evening, he made sure to put on a full display on Tuesday as to why he belongs.
With the Gatemen trailing 2-1 in the bottom half of the sixth and one man down, Shaver smashed a down and in fastball well over the fence in left for a two-run home run to put the Gatemen in front 3-2.
On the mound, Dalton Horton and Jake Matthys combined to throw four combined scoreless innings of relief to close it out, as the Gatemen (15-14-3) defeat Harwich for the second time this season, 3-2, on Monday evening at Spillane Field.
Wareham coach Jerry Weinstein said Shaver’s recent adjustment at the plate trying to hit the ball to all fields, has helped exploit his power.
“Shaver has made a big adjustment at the plate with two strikes,” said Weinstein. “Now, Shaver is going with a no-stride approach in that situation. I think that, working on that, working on going to all fields, has calmed his swing down and helped in other key spots.”
Coming off a rough outing that saw him give up six runs in four innings of work against Hyannis, Jeff Bain was solid for the Gatemen against arguably the top team in the Cape League.
Over five innings, Bain surrendered just two runs on six hits, walked no one, and struck out a batter.
Perhaps the most important moment of Bain’s performance came in the top of the second inning.
Mariners five hitter Anthony Critelli led off the inning by drilling a wall ball double just out of the reach Alex Destino.
Two batters later, with runners on the corners and nobody out, Cal Raleigh dropped a pop fly single in front of Gatemen center fielder Joey Bartosic, bringing in Critelli and putting the Mariners on top 1-0.
The Mariners offense, which had put up a combined 23 runs over the last 2 games and was already up 1-0, seemed destined for another breakout evening.
Bain, however, induced a 4-6-3 double play on his first pitch to Nicholas Delasandro, aiding in stopping the bleeding at just one run.
Heading into the top of the fifth the score remained 1-0 Mariners, but that all changed in a bizarre momentum shift.
With one out and no one on, Delasandro singled just passed the out-stretched arms of Preston Grand Pre at shortstop.
Immediately, Delasandro was erased. Toeing the rubber, Bain peered over and watched Delasandro cross as his legs as he stepped off the bag to take his lead. Noticing Delasandro leaning towards second base, Bain turned and fired to first base, picking Delasandro off with ease for the second out of the inning.
Mariners’ hitter Max Burt made sure that the momentum did not stay on the Gatemen’s side for long.
On the very next pitch, Burt launched a solo shot over the left field fence to put Harwich on top 2-0.
Wareham’s offense remained quiet until the bottom of the sixth, when behind the likes of Gavin Sheets and Shaver the Gatemen jumped out in front.
Joey Bart reached first via a hit-by-pitch and quickly advanced to second on a passed ball.
Sheets, who has been working constantly with hitting coach Don Sneddon on going the opposite way, did just that reaching out and tapping a base hit that dropped right on the left field line. Bart, realizing that Mariners’ left fielder Pavin Smith had not shot of snaring the ball while it was still in the air, broke immediately from second allowing him to come around to score and get the Gatemen on the board.
Up stepped Colton Shaver who, within the blink of an eye, gave Wareham a 3-2 with a no doubter to left field.
“I was just trying to put a barrel on the ball,” said Shaver. “Harwich’s pitchers tonight were terrific and I was just trying to do something in terms of hitting their best pitch, and it worked out.”
Harwich found themselves with a golden opportunity to tie the score in the top half of the eighth against Gatemen reliever Dalton Horton.
Burt socked his second extra base hit of the evening, this one a one out double down the left field line, putting the tying run in scoring position.
Once again, however, the Mariners’ were careless on the base paths.
As Jonathan India dug into the box, Horton attempted a pick-off at second base, only to have Burt get back to the bag safely.
Horton proceeded to fall behind India 2-0, but before delivering his third pitch of the at-bat, spun around trying once more to catch Burt asleep.
This time, Horton was successful, as his pickoff throw went right to the right of the second base bag, allowing Gatemen second baseman Cole Freeman to reel it in and simply apply the tag for the second out of the inning.
“We spent a half an hour today doing a ‘trip around the bases drill,’ which is a (pitcher’s fielding practice) drill,” said Weinstein. “Those drills include ‘day light’ drills where we work on pick offs at second base. A lot of things go into the good things that happen in the game and that’s all about preparation.”