By SEAN TENAGLIA (Gatemen Beat Writer)
WAREHAM, MA: The final out is often the toughest. The Gatemen (6-12) learned this lesson the hard way after watching a 6-4 lead morph into an 8-6 loss at the hands of the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox on Monday night.
The Red Sox plated four runs with two outs in the top of the ninth to stun the Gatemen, who were looking for their third consecutive win. The Yarmouth-Dennis rally began when left fielder Vincent Jackson (Tennessee) reached base on a fielding error by new Wareham shortstop Errol Robinson (Mississippi). Reliever Scott Effross (Indiana) struck out the next two Red Sox batters and looked like he was on his way to another save for the Gatemen. Centerfielder Andrew Stevenson (LSU) and right fielder Hunter Cole (Georgia) then hit back-to-back singles to cut the Wareham lead to 6-5.
After Effross walked designated hitter Rob Fonseca (Northeastern) to load the bases, the Gatemen made a call to the bullpen for Anthony Kay (Connecticut). A wild pitch brought across the tying run, and a two-run single down the left field line from first baseman Josh Lester (Missouri) gave the Red Sox an 8-6 lead.
Likely deflated from Yarmouth-Dennis’ shocking rally, the Gatemen went down in order in the bottom of the ninth against reliever Phil Bickford (Cal State Fullerton). Wareham Head Coach Cooper Farris expressed his team’s overall opinion following the tough loss.
“There’s nothing we can do,” Farris said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win, but we just couldn’t get it done. We ended shooting ourselves in the foot.”
The Red Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead against starter Drew Harrington (Louisville) in the top of the first inning. Third baseman Jordan Tarsovich (VMI), who entered the game with a league-leading .400 batting average, led off with a single to left field. After stealing both second and third base, Tarsovich crossed the plate on an RBI double to the centerfield wall from Cole. Cole then scored the Red Sox’s second run when Kyri Washington (Longwood) bobbled a ball hit to left field by Fonseca.
The Gatemen countered to grab a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the first. After designated hitter Willie Calhoun (Arizona) walked and second baseman Kramer Robertson (LSU) singled, centerfielder Jake Little (Memphis) laid down a perfect bunt to load the bases with no outs. Yarmouth-Dennis starting pitcher Josh Staumont (Azusa Pacific) nearly escaped the inning unscathed after picking up back-to-back strikeouts, but catcher Chris Chinea (LSU) came through yet again for the Gatemen with a two-run single up the middle. Little scored the go-ahead run after Staumont’s 2-2 pitch got by catcher Jason Goldstein (Illinois).
After three quiet innings, Yarmouth-Dennis regained the lead in the top of the fifth with a timely two-out, two-run single up the middle from Fonseca. Harrington was chased from the game after hitting the next batter, Lester. The Louisville southpaw was solid in his second start of the season but could not get the third out to escape the inning. In 4.2 innings of work, he allowed seven hits and four runs while striking out four Red Sox batters.
Once again the Gatemen answered, this time to tie the game 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth. Robertson and Little reached base to start the inning, and moved into scoring position on a sacrifice fly from Washington. Robertson then crossed the plate to tie the game on a fielder’s choice to shortstop from Chinea. Yarmouth-Dennis reliever Doug Willey (Franklin Pierce) got Jose Cuas (Maryland) to pop out to third to strand the go-ahead run on base.
Things were looking good for the Gatemen when first baseman Nick Halamandaris (UC-Berkeley) smashed a 1-2 pitch from Red Sox reliever Billy Strode (Florida State) over the right field fence. The Wareham first baseman and team leader was satisfied that his first home run of the season helped the team, but unfortunately it would not be enough.
“It felt really good,” Halamandaris said. “Striking out with the bases loaded in the first inning was no good. I was glad to pick up two RBIs to help the team, but it wasn’t quite enough. It was much needed, but not quite enough to get the win.”
Right-hander Willie Kuhl (Cal State Fullerton) was excellent in relief for the Gatemen, tossing 2.0 innings of shutout ball in a set-up role. Kuhl was in line to pick up the W for Wareham before the Red Sox rallied to take the lead and the game in the ninth.
The Gatemen will have an opportunity to shake off their frustrating loss Wednesday night when they travel to Brewster for their first matchup of the season with the Whitecaps (5 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 4:40 p.m. Like the Wareham Gatemen Baseball Facebook page and follow @WarehamGatemen for all the latest news on the team.