For Gavin Sheets, it has been a long time coming.
In the top half of the eighth, and the Gatemen and Bourne Braves tied at one, Sheets came to the plate with two runners on, mired in a 2-for-29 slump. Sheets, struggling to hit the ball with any authority as of late, got ahead in the count 2-0 against Braves reliever Chad Luensmann.
Now, in a hitter’s count, Sheets sat on a fastball and got one, drilling it into the left-centerfield gap for a go-ahead RBI single as the Gatemen ultimately held on for a 3-2 win over the Braves.
The Gatemen are now 4-0-1 against the Braves this season.
Sheets said his tireless work pre-game with Gatemen hitting coach Don Sneddon seems to finally be paying off.
“Usually you get a good pitch to hit 2-0 and I tried not to do much,” said Sheets. “This field is pretty big to right field so I was looking to stay inside and get a pitch away I was able to not do too much and hit it to left field.”
Moments later following Sheets’ go ahead single, Alex Destino, who, in addition to Sheets has been working with Sneddon in an effort to exploit his opposite field power, provided the Gatemen with some insurance.
With now runners on the corners and one out, Destino down 1-2 in the count, launched a ball into left center-field that split the Braves’ outfielders and one hopped the fence.
Sheets, coming in from third, scored without a problem, and even though Colton Shaver was thrown out trying to score from first, Destino ended up at third with an RBI triple giving Wareham a 3-1 lead.
“As soon as I got two strikes on me (coach) Jerry (Weinstein) looked at me said ‘left center,’” recalled Destino. I am definitely making strikes on working on my gap power back side. Obviously having Jerry in my corner backing me up makes me feel that much more confidant”
Ryan Wilson got his first start of the year for the Gatemen, and overall was more than serviceable.
The left-hander out of Pepperdine University went five shutout innings, striking out five, walking one, while scattering just four hits.
Despite the fact that the he did not have his usual, deceptive breaking pitch at times during the course of his outing, Wilson was able to keep the Braves hitters off-balance via exquisite fastball command.
In total, Wilson threw 72 pitches over his five innings of work, 51 of which were strikes and 36 of the 50 fastballs Wilson fired home found the zone.
The only instance where Wilson found himself in real trouble was in the bottom of the fourth, when, due to back-to-back Wareham errors, the Braves put runners on the corners with one out.
Wilson, however, bore down, striking out Andrew Shaps on a curveball and inducing a fly out to left off the bat of Danny Reyes to squeeze out of trouble
Weinstein said all things considered it was a very impressive first start for Wilson.
“(Wilson) went five innings, pitched out of traffic at times, and was outstanding,” said Weinstein. “He threw just 72 pitches which for someone who has not started is pretty good.”
Wareham grabbed a 1-0 lead in the top of the third courtesy off the aforementioned Sheets.
Joey Bartosic dropped a single into center field, and Joey Bart reached on a throwing error by Braves’ third baseman Willy Yahn, giving the Gatemen second and third with just one man down.
Sheets, looking just to put the ball in play to put his team on top, did just that, hitting a sacrifice fly to the wall in right field that brought in Bartosic with the first run of the game.
Wilson was lifted as the game turned to the sixth inning, and Connor Wong immediately greeted reliever Nick Sprengel by belting a ground rule double to left.
Sprengel proceeded to get ground ball outs off the bats of David MacKinnon and Justin Yurchak to put himself on the verge of getting out of trouble.
Evan Mendoza had other ideas, lining an RBI single down the right field that brought in Wong with the games tying run.