By SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
BOURNE, MA: On a chilly night that forced some fans to huddle under blankets, the 2014 campaign got off to a bit of a cold start for the Wareham Gatemen, as they fell 4-2 to the Bourne Braves at Doran Park.
The Gatemen (0-1) jumped out to an early lead after tagging Bourne starting pitcher Jimmy Herget (South Florida) for two runs in the top of the third inning. Catcher John Bormann (UT-San Antonio) ripped a double down the left field line to lead off the inning and scored on a Jake Little (Memphis) triple to deep right-center field. Little came in to score on a sacrifice fly to center from second baseman Willie Calhoun (Arizona), giving the Gatemen a 2-0 lead.
Herget, an American Conference All-First Team selection, settled down after the third inning, allowing only six hits and striking out five Wareham batters over 6.0 innings. The Gatemen tallied eight total hits but were unable to string together any substantial offensive threat after the third.
Right-handed pitcher Andrew Zapata (Connecticut) got the start for the Gatemen and looked sharp through the first three innings of the ballgame. Zapata struck out the side against the heart of the Braves’ lineup in the second inning and did not allow a Bourne batter to reach base until the third.
The wheels came off for Zapata in the bottom of the fourth after right fielder Harrison Bader (Florida) led off with a single to left field. The next batter for the Braves, second baseman Chesny Young (Mercer), executed a perfectly timed hit-and-run that moved second baseman Calhoun out of his normal position and put runners on the corners with no outs. First baseman Blake Davey (Connecticut) lined a single to left field, scoring Bader and cutting the deficit to 2-1. Zapata’s night ended after a walk to left fielder Logan Ratledge (NC State) loaded the bases with no outs.
Gatemen Head Coach Cooper Farris was impressed with Zapata’s outing but thought that the young pitcher, and the team as a whole, let the game get away after a couple bad breaks in the fourth.
“I thought that Zapata threw well the first few innings before he got into a little trouble and the game got away from him a little,” Farris said. “We didn’t make a play on that foul ball [hit by Bader], and then the guy gets a base hit the next pitch. They had that hit and run right after that, which really broke it open for them. I thought we panicked a bit after that.”
Liam O’Sullivan (Saint Leo) stepped into about as pressure-packed a situation as possible for a relief pitcher with the bases loaded and no outs. O’Sullivan, who was signed by the Gatemen following the Cape Cod Baseball League tryout at Spillane Field less than two weeks ago, walked in the tying run against the first batter he faced. The Braves’ plated another run to go up 3-2 on a Stephen Wrenn (Georgia) fielder’s choice to right field, but O’Sullivan was able to escape the inning with minimal damage.
O’Sullivan got into a little trouble in the sixth after Davey led off with a first-pitch triple to right-center field. On the next pitch, Ratledge drove in the Bourne first baseman on an RBI single to left, giving the Braves a 4-2 lead. O’Sullivan settled down and closed out the game for the Gatemen, allowing pitching coach Jim Lawler to save some of Wareham’s young arms for their upcoming games. Over 5.0 innings, the Saint Leo right-hander allowed five hits and one run, while walking only one and striking out two batters. Overall, O’Sullivan was satisfied with his opening day performance.
“I didn’t picture that as my first outing at the Cape, but I was just happy to be out there trying to soak up the moment for a little bit,” O’Sullivan said.
“That first inning I came in, you could tell I had some jitters against that first guy, but after that I was able to settle in and it felt good just to be able to get back out there and get out of that inning. It was good to limit the damage and just roll from there.”
The Gatemen had a few opportunities to get something going offensively late in the game but were unable to capitalize. After shortstop Blake Lacey (Southern California) led off the fifth with a line-drive single down the right-field line, Little hit a rocket right to Davey at first base, who doubled off Lacey. In the top of the sixth, the Gatemen got two runners on base with two outs but could not plate any runs. Charlie Warren (Rice) singled to left in the top of the ninth but Bourne reliever Joey Strain (Winthrop) got pinch-hitter Blair Beck (Kansas) to ground into a 4-6-3 game-ending double play.
Designated hitter Kyri Washington (Longwood) was 2-4 with a two-out triple to right-center field that almost made it out of Doran Park. Wareham first baseman Nick Halamandaris (UC-Berkeley) batted cleanup for the Gatemen and was 1-3 with a walk.
Although disappointed by the loss, Farris was pleased with the performance of his team and saw improvement from the Gatemen’s preseason loss to the Newport Gulls.
“Overall, I thought we were better than we were last Sunday,” Farris said. “I guess you could probably tell we worked a bit on some things. We didn’t make any errors.
“Compared to what we did the other day, I thought we were a lot better. We made some strides to where we need to be.“
The Gatemen will have a chance to grab their first win of the season Thursday night when they travel to Chatham to take on the Anglers at Veterans Field (7 p.m.).
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.
“Coop’s Scoop” Post Game Interview with Coach Farris
Gatemen Player of the Game Liam O’Sullivan