July 15, 2023 10:58 pm | by Joanna Dwyer
The Gatemen took on the Orleans Firebirds for the tiebreaker of the series at Spillane Field Saturday night. After cruising through the game with the lead, the Firebirds tied things up and forced the Gatemen into a walk-off situation for the 5-4 win in the bottom of the ninth.
Wareham had the bases juiced with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, needing just one run to snap their five game losing streak. JC Colon (Missouri) reached on a leadoff walk, and stood just 90 feet away from home as Bobby Boser (USF) stepped into the box for his first at-bat of the night.
“I was just hoping he could get a pitch he could handle so we could go out with a W and keep going from here,” Colon said.
Boser eyed down the pitcher with a hitter’s count as he had a big swing of the bat, smacking a single between the two Orleans outfielders in center and left and sending Colon streaking across the dish as the team stormed the field.
“I know I have to drive the ball but if I can just get on base, no matter which way I do that, I know coach won’t complain with that,” Colon said.
Jonathan Bautista set the tone for the game, making his third start on the mound after a brief hiatus playing for the Valley Blue Sox of the New England Collegiate Baseball League. After Orleans put up two runs in the top of the first, the righty helped the Gatemen through 5.1 scoreless innings with four strikeouts to his name with just one walk.
Wareham needed a spark on offense quickly after struggling through the last few games. Michael Brooks (Kansas) had a warm welcome to the Cape League, launching a solo shot to the outfield bleachers to get the Gatemen on the board and chip away at the Orleans lead and make it 2-1.
“I was just looking for the right pitch and I got into a really good hitter’s count,” Brooks said. “I was honestly just sitting on a fast ball and I got it right over the middle of the plate and I just swung.”
Josh Stevenson (Ohio State transfer) singled to put the game tying run on first and moved his way around the bases by taking advantage of wild pitches by the Firebirds. Jedier Hernandez (Missouri transfer) reached on a walk before the chaos ensued.
Hernandez crept toward second as a game of pickle started between the Firebirds. Stevenson was then able to sneak home and tie things up at 2-2 with a stolen base.
Wareham looked to keep things rolling in the third inning when a string of singles put two runners on for Dorian Gonzalez (University of Miami). Gonzalez hit a two RBI single to bring in Hernandez and Nick McLain (Arizona State) and give the Gatemen a 4-2 lead.
The Gatemen defense held the Orleans offense in check for the majority of the game. Wareham kept the Firebirds from scoring up through the ninth inning.
“Our pitching has definitely struggled a little bit,” Gonzalez said. “We have all the confidence in the world in these guys and John threw a great game and he kept us in it and we’re just gonna keep rolling from here.”
With the walk-off, the Gatemen get a much needed win to shift the momentum in their favor.
“The key is just staying in that level space,” Colon said. “If we stay neutral, I know we’re gonna have success. We have a good team. We’re gritty, we have a lot of passion for the game. We’re just gonna keep playing hard and whatever the outcome is just leave it out there on the field so we don’t have any regrets at the end of the day.”
Wareham aims to put an end to the school bus scaries when they take on the Bourne Braves at Doran Park.
“We just gotta be ready for anything,” Gonzalez said. “This team, we’ve gone through a lot recently and we know that we can handle anything.”