BOURNE, MA: – Staring at an early deficit against Bourne in the opening round of the 2010 CCBL playoffs, Max Perlman and his Wareham teammates never lost their cool.
Despite surrendering four runs in the bottom of the first inning, Perlman (Harvard) and the Gatemen (20-24-1) rallied for the victory in Game 1 of the best-of-three opening round series over the defending-champion Braves (24-21). Fourth-seeded Wareham tacked on a single run in three different innings before taking the lead for good in the eighth and hanging on for the 9-5 win.
With both teams even at 4-4, John Andreoli (Connecticut) came into score on a wild pitch off of RJ Alvarez (Florida Atlantic), and LJ Mazzilli (Connecticut)—in the same at-bat—bounced a single through a drawn-in infield to score Derek Dennis (Michigan) and complete the comeback. Mazzilli was thrown out trying to stretch the play into a double, but the damage done was just enough.
Bourne clawed back within one in the bottom half of the inning off of Andrew McKirahan (Texas), who allowed a leadoff single to Jason Coats (TCU) before yielding to closer Keith Bilodeau (Maine) after Coats moved from first to third on a pair of groundouts. Daniel Bowman (Coastal Carolina) singled into left to score Coats, but Bilodeau retired the final batter of the inning. McKirahan wound up with the victory—his first of the season.
The Gatemen tacked on three big insurance runs in the top of the ninth, as lefty hurler R.C. Orlan (North Carolina) walked the bases loaded, bringing up Derek Dennis (Michigan). The shortstop out of Ada, Mich., had been struggling at the plate as of late, but connected for one of his biggest hits of the season, a base hit into left center to drive in a pair of runs. Before the inning ended, Andreoli scored on a wild pitch for the second time of the game to put Wareham up 9-5.
Ken Ferrer (Elon) entered the game in the ninth looking for his fifth save of the season, and despite allowing two base hits to start the inning, benefited from a first-to-second double play, and struck out the final batter to shut the door on the Braves and propel Wareham to its first postseason victory since 2006.
It was a duel between Western Division All-Stars, as Perlman and Bourne’s Grayson Garvin (Vanderbilt) squared off in the opening game of the series. Perlman, who missed all of 2009 recovering from shoulder surgery, got off to a rough start, but finished with six innings and nine strikeouts, while walking two and allowing four runs on six hits—all the runs coming in the first.
Garvin, who had been named the 2010 CCBL Pitcher of the Year before the game began, was roughed around for three runs on eight hits while striking out four and walking none.
Bourne had its way with Perlman in the first, tacking on four runs on three hits. Travis Jankowski (Stony Brook), a recent addition to the Braves lineup, led off with a base hit to center and was able to hustle over to second to stretch the hit into a double. Tommy LaStella (Coastal Carolina) launched a ground rule double that bounced over the center field fence to plate the first run. After a walk, Travis Shaw (Kent. State) ripped a three-run homer to right center to put the Western Division champions up 4-0.
Wareham answered with a run in the top of the second after Tyler Bream (Liberty) blooped a single down the right field line to score Max Muncy (Baylor). The Zelienople, Penn., native then ripped his third home run of the year—a solo shot in the top of the fourth—to pull Wareham within two.
In the top of the fifth, Mazzilli reached on a throwing error by the catcher, moved to second on a sacrifice, stole third and was plated on an infield single by Zach Wilson (Arizona State) to pull within a run. After Garvin was pulled with two outs and runners on the corner, righty reliever Kevin Brady (Clemson) came on to face Bream, and induced a popup to the catcher to end the inning.
Wareham got to Brady for a run in the sixth to tie the game, but had a chance for more. Mazzilli drove home his collegiate teammate Andreoli with a base hit to right, but got caught in a rundown between first and second. Adam McClain (Memphis), who had moved from first to third on the hit, tried to sneak into score, but thrown out at the plate while Mazzilli made it to second. Brady struck out the final batter of the inning to end the threat.
Wareham will look for the series sweep tomorrow night at Spillane Field. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.