July 7, 2023 9:47 pm | by Amanda Foster
Similarly to the Wareham Gatemen season so far, Josh Stevenson’s production at the plate has been hit or miss — literally. The Ohio State University transfer, with a considerable amount of power in his bat, went on a five-game hitting streak in the final week of June, the highlight of which was going 4-for-4 with two doubles against Yarmouth-Dennis June 22.
After June 28, however, Stevenson slid into a bit of a slump. Whether his outs came in the form of a putout or a strikeout, Stevenson couldn’t successfully reach base. Consequently, his confidence faltered and he was left to try whatever he could to get it back.
Friday night presented him with the perfect opportunity. With two runners on base in the bottom of the second inning, Stevenson stepped up to the plate for the first time in the game. Wareham already had a one-run lead. Knowing they were playing the powerful Brewster Whitecaps, they needed to take advantage of any chance that was available.
After watching one pitch come in for a strike and attempting a bunt at the next, Stevenson saw the ball he really wanted and made direct contact, sending it sailing over the right field wall. With an exit speed of 100 miles per hour, the ball traveled 373 feet (per TrackMan) for a no-doubter home run.
It was Stevenson’s first home run of his Cape Cod Baseball League career, and exactly what he needed to get back on track.
“It felt good to get that barrel and get that feeling going again,” Stevenson said. “I got a good pitch to hit and didn’t miss it, luckily.”
Stevenson’s three-RBI home run propelled the Gatemen to a 4-1 lead, one they never relinquished on the way to their 12-5 win. The victory, much like Stevenson’s slam, was greatly desired and turned out even better than expected.
Thursday night saw the Gatemen’s first win in eight days, and they needed to take advantage of that momentum in whatever way possible. Friday night’s game was the cleanest the Gatemen have played in a long stretch, with strong offense and not a single error, and it helped the team regain some of their identity.
“We had a lot of hits tonight, a lot of barrels, (we) played good baseball,” Stevenson said. “When everybody’s clicking it’s really fun in that dugout.”
Stevenson has also been trying to rediscover his identity as a baseball player, which was one of the reasons as to why he chose to transfer to Ohio State. The Youngsville, Louisiana native spent his first two seasons at LSU, but entered the transfer portal after struggling his sophomore season.
“It was basically, for me, if I wanted to stay home or go away,” Stevenson said about his decision. “This opportunity with going to Coach Mosiello at Ohio State is going to be huge for me. To find myself as a player and just kind of get away from all the distractions.”
Playing in the Cape League exposed Stevenson to new opportunities to find himself, as he put it, as well. Summer ball is a more relaxing environment for most every ball player, because despite the constant playing, it means something different than college baseball does.
College baseball can be more limited in providing opportunities, as Stevenson himself experienced. After a solid freshman season where he appeared in 60 games and batted .200, Stevenson only saw 10 at-bats in 24 games his sophomore year.
After that, he had a feeling it was time for a change, and playing in Wareham has become the perfect gateway to his new baseball experience.
“I was just excited to be out here and be able to play again,” Stevenson said. “It feels awesome.”