Robbie Metz finds himself nicknamed “captain clutch” by his teammates and for the second time the George Washington product lived up to the label.
With the Kettleers and Gatemen tied 2-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning and Steven Kwan leading off first, Metz lined a double down the right field.
Cotuit right fielder Griffin Conine went down into the corner to corral the baseball, but the relay throw to the plate was too late as the flying Kwan slid in safely with the game winning run to give Wareham a dramatic, 3-2 win over Cotuit on Monday night at Spillane Field.
The walk-off hit is Metz’s second of the season and decreases Wareham’s magic number to clinch a postseason birth to one.
Gatemen coach Don Sneddon said for Metz, it was simply history repeating itself.
“That right there was just Déjà vu for Metz," said Sneddon. "Told Kwan that since they had been throwing him so many breaking ball they'd probably come back with some more breaking balls and he was able to lay off to reach base and then the kid came through."
In the top half of the ninth, Cotuit threatened to grab a one run advantage of their own off Wareham closer Brett Conine.
Gian Martellini reached on an error and Luke Alexander lined a single to left to give the Kettleers two on with one out.
Conine, however, got pinch hitter Terrin Vavra to hit into a tailor made 6-4-3 double play to keep the Kettleers off the scoreboard.
Wareham entered the bottom of the seventh inning down 2-0 but posted single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to even the ball game up.
Jake Anchia was hit by a pitch, and Willie MacIver singled to give the Gatemen two on in the seventh.
Two batters later, Ben Baird lined out to the shortstop, but the throw from Kettleers infielder Chandler Avant back to second in an attempt to double up Anchia went wild, allowing the Gatemen designated hitter to come all the way around to score to get the Gatemen on the board.
One frame later Wareham evened the score.
Metz and Kyle Kasser each singled and after Jarren Duran and John Toppa failed to move them over, Anchia came through with a clutch two out, RBI single to tie the game up.
“(Jaren) Duran has been swinging a hot bat of late so I elected to let him swing away,” said Sneddon. “He grounds out and then Toppa flies out and you’re kind of kicking yourself there but it was great to then see Anchia pick everyone up with a big two out hit.”
Gatemen starter Noah Zavolas was perfect through the first eight batters of the game, but ran into trouble with two outs in the top of the third.
Kettleers’ nine-batter Zach Cone lined a single to center, and Conine followed up with a base hit of his own putting two on. Zavolas got ahead of Greyson Jenista, 0-2, and induced a ground ball in the shortstop hole that appeared to be the third out of the inning.
The ensuing throw, however, went wild and down the right field line. Cone came into score, and some confusion retrieving the ball down by the Gatemen dugout allowed Conine to score as well to make it 2-0 Cotuit.
“I don’t’ know how in the world two runs score on a play like that,” lamented Sneddon. “We just fell asleep going to retrieve the ball.”
Those two unearned runs were the only blemished on Zavolas’ line, as the Harvard right-hander went six sterling innings allowing just three hits, walking one, and striking out six.
The most notable moment of Zavolas’ outing came in the top of the sixth. Thomas Dillard reached on a two base error and moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt. Zavolas, however battled back and recorded two clutch strikeouts to keep the Gatemen offense within a pair.
Unfortunately for Zavolas he received a staunch matchup in Cotuit’s Austin Kitchen.
Firing home from the left-hand side, Kitchen dealt five and 1/3 shutout innings allowing just three singles.
Grant Wolfram, however, kept Wareham in it in relief of Zavolas wiggling out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh before firing a 1-2-3 bottom of the eighth to give ultimately Metz a chance to walk it off in the ninth.
Next Up: The Gatemen host Falmouth in the final matchup of the two’s season series. First pitch from Spillane Field is scheduled for 630pm and Justin Montgomery is the probable pitcher.