July 31, 2023 12:32 am | by Joanna Dwyer
Fresh off two consecutive walk-off losses, the Gatemen looked to turn it around in the final few games of the season. On Sunday night, Wareham claimed a 5-4 victory over the Cotuit Kettleers.
The Gatemen fell behind 3-2 after five innings. Bayram Hot (Marist) singled to put the tying run aboard. Grant Hussey (West Virginia) stepped up into the batter’s box as a pinch hitter. As the count ran full, Hussey hit a double to bring Hot in to score.
“Smyth put me in in an RBI situation,” Hussey said. “I kind of got lucky on the hit. Hit a real high fly ball and he just couldn’t see it. The kid pitching was good and I knew he had good stuff so I was just trying to put the ball in play.”
Bobby Boser (USF) then came up for the next at-bat and smashed a two run blast over the Gatemen bullpen that bounced off the concession stand to take the lead.
Aidan Major (West Virginia) made his sixth and final start on the mound. After being shaken up by the Bourne Braves in his last outing, Major got into a rhythm against the Ketts.
“Anytime you have a bad outing, you always want to bounce back,” Major said. “The thing that stinks the most is that when you’re a starter, you have to wait a whole week to do that. At school I was a reliever, so sometimes I would throw two or three times a week so I got to bounce back quicker. So it was really nice to come out after a couple of days break and be able to throw a win.”
Cotuit put up their first run of the game with a solo shot followed up by a double and RBI single to open the score at 2-0 in the top of the second.
Major tossed four innings of work and drove through the Cotuit lineup. He only allowed the two runs in the second, but settled down for five strikeouts and did not walk a single batter in the night.
“Just have to execute,” Major said. “I know my stuff’s good enough that if I execute and do what I need to do, I’ll have success. It might not be a win every single time, or I might go out and give up a couple runs like I did tonight. I’m not gonna be perfect, but I know if I execute what I need to do, I’ll be in good shape.”
Wareham tacked on a run in the bottom of the third with Boser causing chaos on offense. He singled and stole second to put a runner in scoring position for Garen Caulfield (Arizona) to hit an RBI single for the first Gatemen run of the game. They then tied things up in the bottom of the third. Dorian Gonzalez (University of Miami) hit a leadoff single and stole second before Jimmy Brennan (Post) hit his own RBI single to make the score 2-2.
Cotuit took back the lead in the top of the fifth as Bryson Shaffer (Coastal Carolina) came in for relief on a single and a two-out double.
James Hepp (UCLA) entered the game in the top of the seventh with a 5-3 Wareham lead. The Kettleers loaded the bases off two hits and a walk. As Gatemen fans held their breath, the 6’7” Bruin eyed down the Cotuit batter. The count quickly filled up before Hepp forced a swinging strikeout to leave the bases juiced.
The Kettleers came knocking on the door again in the top of the eighth. Jake Faherty (Arkansas) came in to close the game out for Wareham. A leadoff double and a sacrifice fly would cut the Gatemen lead to one before the all-star reliever struck out the final batter of the half inning.
The Gatemen needed just three outs to get the win over the top team in the West. Cotuit looked to take back the lead and started the ninth off with a single that took a good hop over Grant Sherrod (USC Upstate) at first. Faherty dominated the next at-bat and tossed the ball past the swinging Cotuit bat for a strikeout for out number one. The go ahead run then trotted to first via a walk.
Hot then showed off his defensive skills at third with a huge catch on a line drive to save a hit for the much needed second out.
“I just had to get ahead of the batter,” Faherty said. “Don’t give them anything to hit hard and just gotta trust my stuff and let it play in the zone.”
The next batter slapped a soft hit to Caulfield who with a smooth spin move, threw to Sherrod for the final out of the game.
“I just took a deep breath,” Faherty said. “Try to keep the mind clear, don’t start overthinking. You don’t wanna let your own head be the thing that hurts you the most.”
With three games left in the season and the team officially out of the playoffs, the Gatemen have been able to relax and just enjoy the sport.
“There’s no pressure anymore and not making playoffs took all the pressure away,” Major said. “It’s a kids game after all. It’s supposed to be fun. We just focused on having fun tonight and I think that was the biggest key.”