SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
HARWICH, MA: On Thursday night, the Harwich Mariners experienced something the Wareham Gatemen have become familiar with this summer- leaving runners on base. However, the Mariners were able to do something the Gatemen have struggled to do- score just enough to win a close ballgame.
Despite leaving nine men on base, the Mariners capitalized in opportune situations to pull out a 4-2 win at Whitehouse Field over the struggling Gatemen (9-21). Wareham has now lost four consecutive games and is in danger of falling out of the playoff hunt in the Western Division.
After a rough first half of the season that saw the pitching struggle and the offense perform at a high level, the Gatemen have now failed to score more than two runs in seven consecutive games. Wareham’s lineup combined for seven hits Thursday night and really only threatened Harwich’s pitchers in three innings.
In the top of the third, right fielder Corey Ray (Louisville) rocketed a 3-1 pitch from Harwich starter Robby Kalaf (Florida International) over the right field wall. Ray’s solo shot, his first of the season, tied the score at 1-1 at the time and surprised the speedy right fielder.
“I knew I hit it pretty good, but I didn’t think it had a shot to go out,” Ray said. “I didn’t think I hit it high enough.
“It felt good. I’m gaining confidence in myself and I’m starting to play the game that I know that I can play.”
Ray delivered again for the Gatemen in the top of the fifth inning, this time with a one-out RBI single that ricocheted off the glove of Harwich shortstop C.J. Hinojosa (Texas) and into left field. Ray’s second hit of the night knotted up the score at 2-2, but the Wareham bats would have no answer against Kalaf and reliever Johnathan Frebis (Middle Tennessee State).
In 5.0 innings of work, Kalaf allowed just three hits and two runs while striking out five Gatemen batters. Frebis tossed the final 4.0 innings, allowing only four hits and picking up three strikeouts. Wareham Head Coach Cooper Farris acknowledged that his team hit some balls hard late, but dug themselves too deep of a hole with tough at-bats early in the ballgame.
“At the beginning of the game, we were a little out of control,” Farris said. “In the middle of our order, we had some really bad swings. We started settling in a little bit, and by the fourth and fifth innings it looked like our at-bats got a little better.
“They swung it good at the end, but we have to swing our way out of this and keep going at it. That’s all we can do. Nobody is feeling sorry for us. We have to fight back.”
Even when the Gatemen got men on base, they ran into outs. Shortstop Kramer Robertson (LSU) led off the game with a hit by pitch, but was caught stealing on the next pitch. Left fielder Kyri Washington (Longwood) was thrown out at third base to end the top of the sixth after first baseman Nick Halamandaris (UC-Berkeley) singled to right field. Farris admitted that he hoped an aggressive approach on the base paths would pay off for his team.
“We can’t play station to station,” Farris said. “We aren’t swinging the bats well enough to do that. I was trying to get some movement going.”
Wareham starting pitcher Ryan Olson (San Diego) threw well in his fourth start of the summer, but the Mariners did enough to string together hits to grab a lead and chase Olson from the game. In 5.0 innings of work, Olson gave up 11 hits and was charged with all four Harwich runs.
The Mariners jumped on Olson in the bottom of the first when three consecutive batters reached base. Centerfielder Kyle Barrett (Kentucky) came around to score on an RBI single from Hinojosa to give Harwich a 1-0 lead. A fantastic leaping double play from Halamandaris at first and a rocket throw to home plate from Ray allowed Olson to escape the first inning having allowed only the one run.
A two-out RBI double to the wall in left-centerfield from designated hitter Ian Happ (Cincinnati) gave Harwich a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third. Olson was pulled from the game in the bottom of the sixth after the first four batters reached base and the Mariners grabbed a 3-2 lead.
Reliever Willie Kuhl (Cal State Fullerton) stepped into a difficult situation with the bases loaded and no outs. The first batter he faced, second baseman Angelo Amendolare (Jacksonville), singled to right field to push the score to 4-2. Kuhl settled down, however, to retire the next three Harwich batters and escape further damage. He pitched the final 3.0 innings of the game, allowing just two hits while striking out three, but the Gatemen bats failed to produce a rally to back up Kuhl’s performance.
With only 14 games remaining in the season, it really is becoming do-or-die time for the Gatemen. Now four games out of the final playoff spot in the Western Division, Wareham desperately needs to pick up wins against division rivals Falmouth and Bourne this weekend. Their shot at turning around the season starts Friday night at Spillane Field with a matchup against the 16-13-1 Commodores (7 p.m. ET).
As always, you can watch the live stream of the game by accessing our “Gatemen Pressbox” page. The pre-game show begins around 6:40 p.m. Like the Wareham Gatemen Baseball Facebook page and follow @WarehamGatemen for all the latest news on the team.