Just like that, the postseason is upon us.
The Gatemen finished a stellar final two weeks of the regular season by defeating Cotuit, 6-0, on a cool, sunny evening at Lowell Park in Cotuit. Wareham finished the regular season 12-2-1 in their final 15 games, a shocking turnaround that followed a seven game stretch that saw the Gatemen go 0-5-2.
Wareham coach Jerry Weinstein said there is no question that the biggest difference in the second half for the Gatemen was their starting pitching.
“I haven’t seen a great change, our pitching has improved,” said Weinstein. “We are throwing a lot more strikes, a lot more strikes with our off-speed stuff. Jake Matthys was huge for us during this run, coming in and saving a number of games. I think (catcher) Joey Bart with more reps has really stepped up.”
The game was irrelevant for the two teams end of the year regular season standing in the Western Division. Wareham (25-15-4) clinched the number two seed on Sunday, and on Monday learned they will play the Bourne Braves in the first round of the postseason beginning on Friday evening.
Weinstein said that while it is fulfilling that the Gatemen had overall success against the Braves during the regular season (5-0-1), it means nothing come Friday.
“We have no more advantage than they do,” said Weinstein. “You can wipe away the wins and losses it means nothing. Right now both teams are zero and zero, it’s a brand new season.”
Game one is scheduled for Friday at 6:30pm at Spillane Field.
Wareham finished the regular season with 25 wins, their most since 2001 when the Gatemen went on to win the Cape Cod Baseball League title.
While the contest was ultimately meaningless with regards to the Gatemen’s postseason seeding, it still gave Weinstein an opportunity to showcase some of the team’s newest arms.
After Clayton Gelfand went four hitless innings, Nick Marguvicius, Cameron Sepede, and Anthony Aliki all made their first outings for the Gatemen.
The three combined for four scoreless innings of work while surrendering just two hit.
Perhaps the most impressive of the four though was Marguvicius. A tall left-hander out of Rider University, Marguvicius featured a four-seam fastball that stuck in the late 80s as well as a late tailing changeup.
Weinstein said he envisions all three making contributions down the road.
“They all made a good impression,” said Weinstein. “I certainly liked Marguvicius and certainly Cameron (Sepede) gives you a different look from down under which we don’t have. Aliki was good fir his part in the last two innings.”
Joey Bart got the Gatemen’s offensive run production started in the top half of the first inning. Jonathan Pryor and Joey Bartosic began the game with back-to-back walks, and moved into scoring position on a wild pitch.
Up 3-1 in the count, Bart drilled a fastball up the middle for his 22nd and 23rd RBI of the season as Pryor and Bartosic scored to put Wareham on top 2-0.
The Gatemen added to their lead two innings later.
Bartosic reached base for his second time in as many at-bats, lining a one out single up the middle. Immediately, Bartosic swiped second, his eighteenth of the season before moving over to second on an errant throw by Cotuit catcher Cody Voss.
Two batters later, Gavin Sheets knocked home Bartosic, lofting a sacrifice fly to left field to give Wareham 3-0 lead.
“I think our recent surge is part due to Gavin Sheets making a tremendous adjustment with the bat and in the field as well,” said Weinstein.
The score remained 3-0 until the top half of the sixth inning, when Alex Destino put a stamp on the Gatemen’s regular season.
Desitno, who has had struggles dealing with two sore legs to go along with a midseason slump, showcased that raw power that Wareham knew they were getting when he arrived at the end of June.
With Colton Shaver standing on first base and nobody out, Destino found himself locked in a 1-1 count against Cotuit reliever David Gerics.
Gerics, now in his second inning of work, left a fastball right in a left-handed hitters wheelhouse – down and in. Destino was all over it.
The power threat out of South Carolina belted it down the right field line, over the fence and past the Gatemen bullpen for a two-run home run giving Wareham a commanding 5-0 advantage.