WAREHAM, MA: Matt Barnes tossed six-plus innings of two-run ball, and George Springer backed him up with a late-game, two-run home run to lift the Wareham Gatemen over the Cotuit Kettleers on Sunday afternoon at Spillane Field.
Looking to rebound from a season-ending defeat against the Kettleers (0-1, 0-1 West) last August in the single-elimination playoff round, the Gatemen (1-0, 1-0 West) used timely hits from Springer (UConn) and Nico Rosthenhausler (Oklahoma State) to pick up the 5-2 victory. Rosthenhausler capped a three-run fourth inning with a one-out base hit to plate a pair, and Springer added two more insurance runs via his first home run of the season in the eighth.
In a matchup of division rivalsand the leagues most winningest teams since 1981, Wareham and Cotuit turned to their staff aces in the inaugural game of the 2010 Cape Cod Baseball League season. Barnes (UConn) was able to best his counterpart, Nick Tropeano (Stony Brook), who struck out eight and surrendered five runs over eight innings of work. Keith Bilodeau (Maine) came out of the bullpen to pick up his first save of the season after over two innings of work.
Barnes, despite walking four batters, only surrendered two hits and struck out one to pick up his first victory of the young season. This season with Connecticut, Barnes went 8-3 with a 3.92 ERA, helping the Huskies to a program-best 48 wins en route to a berth in the Norwich Regional final.
Cotuit threatened in the top of the third after Johnathan Taylor (Georgia) walked and reached second on a passed ball, but Chris Walker (Fordham) gunned him down at third on the stolen base attempt. One batter later, Walker threw out Jonathan Johnson (Loyola Maramount) at second to end the inning.
In the home half of the fourth, Springer walked to lead off the inning and advanced to third two batters later after Jerrud Sabourin (Indiana) singled to left. Tyler Bream (Liberty) scored the games first run after doubling to left center, and Rosthenhausler brought them both home with a base hit up the middle.
The Kettleers rallied in the top of the seventh after Barnes walked leadoff hitter Chad Wright (Kentucky) and hit the next batter, putting two runners on with no outs. Barnes was nearly able to get out of the jam after inducing a ground-ball double play, but after pitching around cleanup hitter Kevin Patterson (Auburn), Paul Hoilman (E. Tennessee State) dumped an RBI-base hit to left to put Cotuit on the board. Bilodeau relieved Barnes with two outs in the seventh. After an infield base hit and a run scoring on a passed ball third strike, Bilodeau got Taylor to ground out to second to end the threat.
After Jonathan Smith (Tenn.-Wesleyan) reached base on a two-out walk, Springer capped the scoring with a two-run blast to deep left field in the home half of the eighth.
Bilodeau shut the door on Cotuit in the top of the ninth, going 2.1 innings and striking out three while allowing just two hits and one unearned run.
Wareham has Monday off, and will travel to Hyannis for a 7 p.m. with the Harbor Hawks on Tuesday evening.