By SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
WAREHAM, MA: “They competed. They could have easily given up, but they kept competing and battling. That was the biggest thing.”
For Wareham Head Coach Cooper Farris, getting his players to compete night-in and night-out has been a challenge early in the season. On Wednesday night, competing did not seem to be an issue for the Gatemen (4-10), who rallied in the bottom of the eighth to tie the score 7-7, and nearly rallied again in the bottom of the tenth before ultimately dropping a tough loss, 9-8, to the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.
Trailing 7-5 in the eighth, the Gatemen strung together four consecutive singles. The last of those singles, off the bat of pinch hitter Chris Chinea (LSU) and into left field, brought around first baseman Danny Rosenbaum (Louisville) and centerfielder Jake Little (Memphis) to knot the score at 7-7. For a team that has struggled to bring around men on base, Chinea’s timely hit was just what the doctor ordered.
“He’s not trying to do too much,” Farris said. “Last year he was trying to swing a little harder than he needed to. I just like the way he’s staying composed and within himself.”
“Coop’s Scoop” – Postgame interview with Manager Cooper Farris – Click below to listen to interview
The Red Sox threatened to regain the lead in the top of the ninth when second baseman Jordan Tarsovich (VMI) advanced to second on a pass ball with two outs. When first baseman Hunter Cole (Georgia) singled to right, Tarsovich came barreling towards home plate. Right fielder Charlie Warren, who pinch hit for the Gatemen in the bottom of the eighth, delivered a strike to the plate on one hop and Chinea laid down the tag to end the inning and keep the game tied. Warren’s clutch play was simply another successful example of Farris’ “next-man-in” philosophy.
“That’s what they got to do,” Farris said. “I tell them all the time, ‘Be ready for your turn to come.’ Charlie showed that he had control of his arm and he made a great throw.”
In the top of the tenth, the Red Sox loaded the bases with one out against Wareham reliever Drew Harrington (Louisville). Centerfielder Andrew Stevenson (LSU) worked the pitch count against Harrington and eventually drew a walk to bring in the go-ahead run. The Red Sox added an important insurance run on a sacrifice fly to left field from shortstop Donnie Walton (Oklahoma State) to take a 9-7 lead.
Three consecutive singles loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of tenth as the Gatemen threatened once again to extend or win the ballgame. Chinea hit a rocket at the shortstop that led to a 6-4-3 double play, but brought in Rosenbaum to cut the score to 9-8. Red Sox reliever Josh Pierce (Kent State) hit second baseman Kramer Robertson (LSU), but got designated hitter Willie Calhoun (Arizona) to strike out swinging to escape further trouble and end the game.
The 9-8 loss was not exactly the outcome Gatemen fans expected after their team jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in the first inning. Calhoun got things going off Y-D starter Cody Poteet (UCLA) with a leadoff double, his league-leading ninth of the season. The first six Gatemen all reached base and third baseman Andrew Knizner (NC State) got the scoring going with a two-run double down the left field line in his return to the lineup following an injury. Left fielder Kyri Washington (Longwood) and Little each added RBI singles as the Gatemen batted around against Poteet.
Poteet really settled down after that first inning, allowing only one more Wareham hit in his remaining four innings of work. That hit came off the bat of Washington, who crushed the first pitch he saw from Poteet over the right-centerfield wall in the third inning to give the Gatemen a 5-0 lead. Washington, who is now 6-11 with 4 RBIs in his last five games, was pleased with his first homer of the summer.
“It felt great,” Washington said. “I’ve been working hard all summer and I feel like it’s all starting to come around a little bit. I’m excited to see where I go from here.”
Unfortunately, the Gatemen were unable to capitalize on another solid start from Brock Hartson. The UT-San Antonio right-hander tossed 5.0 innings while allowing five hits and two runs and striking out three Red Sox batters. He left the game with a 5-2 lead and in line for the win, but the bullpen was unable to keep the Y-D bats at bay.
An error by Knizner at third and an infield single to shortstop from designated hitter Rob Fonseca (Northeastern) brought the tying run to the plate in the form of Hunter Cole. The Georgia first baseman drilled a 1-0 pitch from reliever Liam O’Sullivan (Saint Leo) over the right field wall to knot the score at 5-5. Cole finished the night 3-5 with 4 RBIs, and his three-run bomb proved to be the turning point of the game.
The Red Sox grabbed a pair of insurance runs off Scott Effross (Indiana) in the seventh and eighth to take a 7-5 lead. The Gatemen would rally to tie the game and force extra frames, but ultimately they were unable to hold off the Red Sox. As he has reiterated in the past, Farris believes that pitching and defense are the keys to getting the team back on track.
“We just have to do a little better job pitching and a little better defensively,” Farris said. “We had a 5-2 lead and had a couple of defensive lapses and bad pitches there that let them get back in it.”
Washington said that the onus was on the offense to give the pitching staff more room with which to work, but was proud of the way the team battled.
“We need to string some runs together and bury them,” Washington said. “We let them stick around for too long. We competed as a team, so that’s the positive takeaway.”
While the Gatemen did not earn the outcome that they would have liked, they showed a lot of heart and resilience to fight back twice late in the game after giving away the early lead. The team returns home Friday for a matchup with the Orleans Firebirds at Spillane Field (7 p.m. ET). In order to avoid another game like their 7-0 loss to the Firebirds at Orleans Saturday, the Gatemen will need to show that same competitive nature that was on display Wednesday night.
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.
Pregame Interview with John Bormann (UT-San Antonio)