July 7, 2023 10:21 pm | by Joanna Dwyer
The gate was successfully guarded by the Gatemen Friday night when they took on the Whitecaps. The team walked out of Spillane Field with their heads held high after a dominant 12-5 win over Brewster.
Riley Eikhoff (Coastal Carolina) made his second start on the bump for Wareham. After two quick outs, Brewster struck first and smashed a solo home run off the video scoreboard. The righty quickly settled down, though, and got the third out immediately after.
“I just made a mistake pitch there and left it over the plate,” Eikhoff said. “Kid made a really good swing on it. I just had to continue doing my thing and locate the pitches.”
After leaving a runner stranded in the bottom of the first, the Gatemen were back on defense behind Eikhoff, who grabbed his first strikeout of the game to turn the side.
Sebastian Murillo (Georgia) stayed hot from his great game on Thursday night and hit a leadoff single before stealing second. Bobby Boser (USF) reached on a walk, and Jedier Hernandez (Seton Hall) came up for his first at-bat of the night. The catcher hit his second RBI of his Gatemen tenure to send Murillo across home and tie the game up at one apiece. Wareham wasn’t ready to go back in the field so soon, though. Josh Stevenson (Ohio State transfer), who had been struggling with the bat and hadn’t recorded a hit since June 26, stepped into the box. He was ready to change that as he smashed a three-run blast over the right field wall to give the Gatemen a 4-1 lead going into the third.
The third inning went scoreless for both teams, but Brewster got back into the game in the top of fourth as they hit another home run to cut the Gatemen lead to two. Eikhoff settled down once again and recorded two big swinging strikeouts to move the game along.
Brewster recorded a third run on an RBI double but Eikhoff and the Wareham defense were able to make key stops including multiple snags and grabs by the duo of Boser at shortstop and Grant Hussey (West Virginia) at first.
“It’s just being athletic,” Boser said. “I feel like that’s the name of my game, so going into short was nothing new for me.”
Before Friday night, Wareham’s starting pitchers struggled with long outings, but Eikhoff went five innings, struck out six batters and only allowed five hits on the day along with the win. He said he tries to stay relaxed and enjoy the game when he’s on the mound.
“I just kind of go out there and I’m just trying to have fun,” Eikhoff said. “The game will do what it wants and you don’t really have control over what happens in baseball. So you just gotta go out there, have some fun and it’ll go your way sometimes.”
The Gatemen carried their defensive momentum over to the offensive side of the game as the game continued. Stevenson singled to start the bottom of the fifth and Nick McLain (Arizona State) secured his first hit of the day with a deep double to put two runners in scoring position.
“I just need to get my pitch to hit and don’t miss it,” McLain said. “I hit the ball hard after my first two ABs. I was a little mad that I popped up twice in the infield. I just needed to make a mid-game adjustment and I did so it worked out.”
Garen Caulfield (Arizona) reached on a fielder’s choice to juice the bases. Hussey hit a sacrifice hit to send Stevenson home and Lawson Harrill (Campbell) proceeded to smack a two-run double for his first RBI with the Gatemen. Dorian Gonzalez kept the party going to send Harrill in for another run on an RBI single to close out the fifth, as the Gatemen led Brewster 8-3.
McLain came dashing across the plate in the bottom of the sixth on a throwing error by Brewster to increase the gap.
The Whitecaps tacked on another run with an RBI single, but the Gatemen defense was able to relax as they held a strong lead over their opponent.
“It’s huge,” Boser said. “It’s a cushion. It’s relaxation for us, so when we’re able to go out there and just play baseball, that’s when we’re at our best, so it’s great.”
The Gatemen pitching had a strong performance overall, with 13 Ks and only two walks. Manager Ryan Smyth said when all the parts come together for the Gatemen, the team is a force to be reckoned with.
“It’s really good to see because now I think we know that when we do this, then we’re one of the best teams in the league,” Smyth said. “The potential is obviously there every single night, so putting it together was great to see. Now we know we can do it and hopefully we do it a hell of a lot more going forward.”
Wareham looked to finish the game out strong in the final few innings. Boser stood on first after reaching on his second walk of the night in the bottom of the eighth. McLain kept his adjustments in mind in the batter’s box and hit a two-out single to bring Boser home. Caulfield then took his stance for his fifth time of the night. Caulfield, who has served as a consistent hitter for the Gatemen, finally launched his first Cape League home run into the outfield bleachers to bring the score to 12-4.
Tyler Dean (South Carolina transfer) closed out the game for Wareham. The Gatemen needed three outs, but Brewster put up their fifth run of the night before the game could end. Any attempted rally was stopped by Dean, however, who put the exclamation point on the win by drawing a swinging strikeout to end the game with a final score of 12-5.
The Gatemen are back on the road to face the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox at Red Wilson Field Saturday. Although they have had their struggles on the road, the team is ready to face the challenge head on.
“We’re not worried about being on the road,” Boser said. “We’re just gonna keep the ball rolling, keep the offense going, keep our pitchers in the zone and play some good defense and then hopefully come out with a win.”