SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
BREWSTER, MA: Wareham Head Coach Cooper Farris has never shied away from equating a tie to “kissing your sister” Well, Wednesday night’s tie in Brewster felt particularly dissatisfying for theWareham Gatemen, who failed to pick up a win when they most desperately needed one.
Despite rallying with two outs in the ninth to plate a pair of runs to tie the score at 6-6, the Gatemen (13-25-2) had to be frustrated with their extra-innings result at Stony Brook Field. Darkness ended an exciting, back-and-forth game after ten innings, as the Gatemen dropped a crucial half-game in the standings to the Cotuit Kettleers. With only four games remaining, Wareham needs to win out to have even a chance at earning a playoff spot.
The Gatemen jumped out to an early 4-0 lead over the Whitecaps in the top of the fourth, courtesy of five hits off Brewster starter Garrett Mundell (Fresno State). Designated hitter Chris Chinea (LSU) plated shortstop Blake Lacey (USC) on an RBI single, and first baseman Nick Halamandaris (UC-Berkeley) delivered with a two-run triple to right-centerfield. Halamandaris would come around to score on a sacrifice fly from right fielder Anderson Miller (Western Kentucky) to give Wareham an early four-run lead.
The Whitecaps responded by slowly chipping away at the Wareham lead, beginning with two runs off starting pitcher Scott Effross (Indiana) in the bottom of the fourth. They added another run off reliever Ryan Olson (San Diego) in the bottom of the fifth, courtesy of an RBI double from catcher Luke Lowery (East Carolina) to cut the Wareham lead to 4-3.
Brewster tied the score at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh when first baseman Andrew Lee (Tennessee) lined an RBI single to right field. A pass ball by catcher Keaton Aldridge (Memphis) plated the go-ahead run for Brewster with two outs in the frame, and an RBI ground-rule double from third baseman John Sansone (Florida State) gave the Whitecaps an insurance run. For Farris, Brewster’s slow, gradual rally served as a microcosm of the summer for the Gatemen.
“It was like riding a roller coaster, like the whole season has been,” Farris said. “It’s disappointing to take a 4-0 lead and give it away. We have to do a better job of recognizing the game and taking what it gives us.”
After Wareham squandered an opportunity in the top of the eighth to cut into Brewster’s 6-4 lead, the Gatemen stepped to the plate in the ninth inning with their backs against the wall. Brewster reliever Doug Willey (Franklin Pierce) quickly retired the first two Gatemen batters, as Wareham was down to its final out of the game. Left fielder Corey Ray (Louisville) reached on an infield single to first, and centerfielder Charlie Warren (Rice) ripped a single to right field to put the tying run on base.
With two out and two on, Brewster called to the bullpen for reliever Ryan Mason (UC-Berkeley). Halamandaris, a college teammate of Mason, was able to give his Wareham teammates a bit of advice as they stepped into the box against the UC-Berkeley right-hander.
“I told them to treat him like a sinker-ball pitcher,” Halamandaris said. “His arm has a lot of sink to it. I told them to look for the ball up, because when he leaves it up it’s flat and that’s when it’s easy to hit.”
Whether or not Halamandaris’ advice proved to be the difference, second baseman Willie Calhoun (Arizona) and Lacey delivered with back-to-back RBI singles to suddenly pull the Gatemen even with the Whitecaps. Lacey, who finished 3-5 on the night with an RBI and a run scored, said he was pleased to contribute to his team in such a crucial spot.
“I was just swinging the bat hard and looking to get a good pitch and put a good swing on it,” Lacey said. “I just feel like if I keep bringing confidence to the plate, eventually I’ll start coming through.
“It’s a great feeling, and as long as I’m contributing to the team, I’m just blessed to be here.”
Southpaw Jason Richman (Georgia Southern) was phenomenal in relief for the Gatemen over the final three innings of the ballgame. He retired the final ten batters he faced and helped Wareham hold on to pick up the tie and a point.
Unfortunately, despite their ninth-inning rally, the Gatemen failed to earn a win and now find themselves in a desperate situation. Following the tie, Farris clearly illustrated the only way for his team to dig themselves out of their hole to make the postseason.
“We’re just trying to play them one game at a time,” Farris said. “I know it’s a cliché, but we’re just trying to do what we can do to stay alive. I can’t fault our guys’ hustle. We just need to quit making mistakes.”
The Gatemen travel to Falmouth on Thursday night for a matchup with the streaking Commodores at Arnie Allen Diamond (6:30 p.m. ET). A loss on Thursday would mathematically eliminate Wareham from playoff contention, so expect the Gatemen to compete to the final strike in Falmouth.
As always, you can watch the live stream of the game by accessing our “Gatemen Pressbox” page. The pre-game show begins around 6:10 p.m. Like the Wareham Gatemen Baseball Facebook page and follow @WarehamGatemen for all the latest news on the team.