July 6, 2023 11:35 pm | by Joanna Dwyer
The Gatemen snapped their five game skid on Thursday night with a big win over the Bourne Braves. After the Braves walked it off the night before, Wareham was ready to get back in the win column. With the help of their high-powered offense and some great pitching performances, the Gatemen went home with a 9-8 victory over their division rival.
With a run time of three hours and 45 minutes for the longest 9-inning game in the Cape League so far this season, Wareham got to work. The Gatemen bats were red hot in the bottom of the first. Nick McLain reached on a walk and moved into scoring position after Caulfield’s first hit of the game. Grant Hussey (West Virginia) took his position in the batter’s box as he eyed down the pitcher. Bourne needed the third out to escape unharmed, but Hussey wouldn’t let that happen. The lefty took a big swing and hit a two-RBI single to bring in McLain and Caulfield and give the Gatemen an early lead.
“Today they were leaving stuff over the plate and giving me things to hit, so I just tried to put the best swing I could on it and help the team out,” Hussey said.
One pitch to Sebastian Murillo (Georgia) later, and the ball sailed over the left field wall for his first Gatemen home run of the season as Wareham took a 4-0 lead.
The Braves dug in to start the top of the second. Bourne took advantage of a big Gatemen throwing error after putting together a few good at-bats and put up two runs of their own to cut the lead in half.
Caulfield was the leadoff batter to start the bottom of the third. Five pitches later, the Wildcat would trot to first on a walk, followed by two more walks from Lawson Harrill (Campbell) and Tommy Splaine (Arizona). Murillo would hit a tough fielder’s choice and gave Caulfield an opening to score to increase Wareham’s lead.
Gavin Black (Mississippi State transfer) made his first start on the bump for the Gatemen. The former JUCO standout threw three innings of work and allowed two earned runs on four hits. Black got into a sticky situation and had two runners on before he was relieved by James Hepp (UCLA) in the top of the fourth. Two runs came across the plate for the Braves as they tied it up 5-5 before the Gatemen defense came to play. A big play from 6’3 catcher Rene Lastres (Charlotte transfer) to get the tagout at home helped to hold the tie going into the bottom half of the inning. Coming into tonight’s matchup, Lastres struggled behind the dish with the new pitchers, but got into a groove tonight.
“We’ve never played with each other before here so we’re kind of getting used to the way we play,” Lastres said. “We’re getting through it right now. Pitchers are gonna throw strikes and I’m trying to do my job and catch them.”
Bourne took the lead in the top of the fifth thanks to an RBI sacrifice fly. That lead would be short lived, however, as the Gatemen promptly stole it back. A double from Harrill put a runner in scoring position, and Splaine stepped up to bat and hustled to first before taking second on a fielding error by the Braves. The Bourne dugout watched on as the ball was thrown out of play and Harrill was awarded a bag and jogged home. Hussey looked to keep his bat going and smashed the ball into the deepest part of center field for a long double to tack on another run for the Gatemen. Hussey then tacked on another RBI with a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the sixth and made the score 8-6 in Wareham’s favor.
The defense held strong for the Gatemen with key plays from the duo of Murillo and Caulfield. The two had a major impact for Wareham in tonight’s fight to snap the losing streak.
“It’s a lot of games played in this summer league,” Caulfield said. “Coach Smyth had a good little pregame talk today about not worrying about what happened in the past and just trying to win each pitch tonight.”
Thomas Kane (Maryland) threw 1.2 innings and ended the night with the win after he was relieved by Will Koger (Louisville). Tonight’s game was extra special for the Cardinal lefty. In the walkoff loss to Orleans, Koger got the loss, but in this matchup he instead got his first save of the season.
“I trust my stuff and I trust the teammates behind me,” Koger said. “I just gotta go in there and you know, just pump strikes in there and let the chips fall where they fall and tonight they did.”
The Braves put up a run in the top of the seventh, but Koger was able to strike out the Cape Cod Baseball League Player of the Week Derek Bender (Coastal Carolina)to send the Gatemen up to bat.
Lastres used the team’s defensive momentum to crush the ball 382 feet to the outfield bleachers for his first home run of the season.
“He threw me two curveballs in a row that I swung through,” Lastres said. “Then I kind of picked his glove on the fastball because he started kind of moving his fingers so I was like ‘he’s not throwing another curveball here’ and he went with an elevated heater and I just put a good spin on it.”
Bourne held on for dear life to keep the game close. They put up another run to put themselves within one run to tie things up. Koger was able to force the batter to hit into the third out to leave two runners stranded.
The Gatemen’s skid finally came to a close three outs later as they closed out the game with a win. Caulfield said he hopes the team takes the positives of the win into tomorrow’s matchup against the Brewster Whitecaps.
“I think we just roll with the momentum that we had from Will right there in the last inning so the team’s pretty fired up,” Caulfield said. “I think we just bring that into the first inning tomorrow and try to win tomorrow.”