WAREHAM, MA: A stagnant late inning offense and an out of nowhere blowup inning led to the most deflating loss of the 2012 season for the now reeling Wareham Gatemen. Wareham has now lost five of six after blowing a 6-0 lead against the Eastern Division leading Harwich Mariners in a crushing 9-6 loss, capped by a five run Mariners ninth.
After struggling to just two runs apiece in losses to Cotuit and Brewster in its last two games, the Wareham offense came out firing against Harwich starter Eric Skoglund (UCF). A trio of home runs highlighted a six run outburst in the first three innings. Kyle Schwarber (Indiana) started the fireworks with a tape measure two run bomb in the bottom of the first that barely cleared the right center field fence. With the score 3-0 in the bottom of the third, Mott Hyde (Georgia Tech) launched a towering solo shot to push the Gatemen lead to 4-0. Two batters later, with Schwarber on first, Gatemen cleanup hitter Tyler Horan (Virginia Tech) made the score 6-0 with a two run homer to right, his sixth jack of the season.
At this point, the game seemed well in hand when Harwich manager Steve Englert pulled Skoglund for Mississippi State righty Brandon Woodruff. Englert initially made the mistake of choosing Skoglund to start over Woodruff. But he changed pitchers at exactly the right time to keep the game from slipping further out of reach. Woodruff was outstanding over the next 5.1 innings, giving up no hits, no runs, and retiring 13 of the 16 Gatemen hitters he faced. Woodruff’s smooth outing allowed the Mariners offense to slowly chip away at the Gatemen advantage.
First, in the top of the fourth Jacoby Jones (LSU) singled home Eric Jagielo (Notre Dame) to get Harwich on the board at 6-1. Then Harwich added two more in the top of the sixth on a Phillip Ervin (Samford) RBI single and a wild pitch from Gatemen starter Kendall Graveman (Mississippi State). All that was just a prelude to a dramatic top of the ninth.
Leading 6-4, the Gatemen turned to closer Jonathan Holder (Mississippi State) and his 1.59 ERA to slam the door. But after a pair of errors and a bunt single, the lead had shrunk to 6-5 with runners on first and third and nobody out. Brian Ragira (Stanford) then pushed a single through the hole on the right side to tie the game at six. Two batters later, Austin Wilson (Stanford) hit perhaps the longest home run on the Cape this season over the 20 row leftfield bleachers at Spillane Field. The three run bomb deflated everyone in the ballpark and gave Harwich its first lead of the game at 9-6. As the fans continued to file out of their seats, Mariners closer Zane Evans (Virginia Tech) retired Wareham in order in the bottom of the ninth.
The loss was clearly the most disappointing of the Gatemen season as it dropped them to 10-12. Wareham is now two games back of Cotuit (12-10), a team they’ve been in front of for most of the season, for second place in the Western Division. The Gatemen will try to break their three game losing streak Thursday night at home against 6-16 Hyannis. First pitch is at 7:00.