The Gatemen were on the verge letting a second straight game slip away, but Gavin Sheets had other ideas.
With one out and nobody on in the midst of a 2-2 tie, K.J. Harrison worked a one out walk in the top of the ninth. Sheets stepped in, and on the first pitch he saw took a vicious cut against Harwich right-hander Brad Bass only to come up empty.
Two pitches later, Bass bounced a breaking ball in the dirt that only got away from Mariners’ catcher J.D. Andreseen for a split second, but it was more than enough as Harrison got to second with ease. Harrison’s base running expertise proved to be pivotal. On the 1-2 pitch, Sheets grounded a single back up the middle, bringing around Harrison with the game-winning run as the Gatemen knocked off the Mariners 3-2 on Thursday night at Whitehouse Field in Harwich.
The win improves the Gatemen to 4-2, while Harwich drops to 6-1.
Trailing by a run entering the bottom of the ninth, the Mariners were looking for a spark offensively. They seemed to get it when Pavin Smith drilled an 0-1 pitch down the left field that off the bat seemed like extra bases. Gatemen left fielder Brett Netzer was able to get over to the line and scoop up the ground ball hit in a hurry, however, and throw a perfect strike to second base to nab Smith as he tried to stretch his single into a double. Netzer’s play proved critical as it all but quelled any hope of a Mariners’ comeback.
Wareham coach Jerry Weinstein said Harrison’s heads up base running and Netzer’s throw were without a doubt the difference.
“We were opportunistic today,” said Weinstein. “The two big plays were obviously the dirt ball read (by Harrison) and the throw out (by Netzer) to start the ninth.”
Gunner Leger out of Louisiana Lafayette got the start for the Gatemen, and lived up to the hype surrounding him. The left-hander went three innings, surrendered just two hits, struck out two, and did not walk a batter. In total, Leger threw 18 fastballs, 13 of which were strikes. He also mixed in a solid 12-6 curveball and a change up.
“He is a crafty little left-hander,” said Weinstein. “He has good command and contrast. He has a lot of speeds coming in at hitters.”
For the fourth time this season, Wareham jumped out to a fast start, scoring two in the top of the first inning. Trevor Ezell began the two run frame with a one out double down the right field, and Harrison followed it up with a double of his own to give Wareham a 1-0 lead. Finally, Sheets blooped a hit into left center field, bringing in Harrison and putting the Gatemen on top 2-0 after one.
From that point on, the Gatemen bats were mostly quiet, as Mariners starter Peter Solomon retired the last 10 batters they faced.
Solomon’s efforts allowed the Mariners bats time to heat up, and in the bottom of the sixth, the Mariners’ offense picked Solomon up. Nine-hitter Steven Foster led off the inning with a double down the left field, and a bunt single by Ernie Clement gave the Mariners runners on the corners with nobody out.
Two batters later, Smith got the Marines on the board with a base hit through the left side. The base hit brought in Foster and moved Clement all the way over to third with still just one man away. Logan Farrar capped off the Mariners comeback with a fielders choice RBI, scoring Clement to tie the score at two.
The Gatemen bullpen, however, refused to crack anymore. Casey Mize out of Auburn came in and tossed three innings of shutout baseball, helping to ultimately seal the Gatemen win.