Two days after having one go their way, the Gatemen found themselves on the short of a nail biting affair on Tuesday night.
In the top of the ninth trailing 3-2, Wareham managed to string together a pair of singles as a Steven Kwan single to right coupled with a Jarren Duran bullet to third put runners on the corners with two men down.
With all 2,407 fans in attendance at Doran Park on their feet, Bourne Braves reliever Jared Skolnicki induced a pop up off the bat of Joe Drpich for the final out of the ball game as the Braves held on for a one run victory over the Gatemen on a chilly night for baseball.
The win gives the Braves a 1-0 lead in the best of three Western Division Final. Game two is tomorrow night at Spillane Field.
Despite outhitting the Braves for the contest, 8-6, the Gatemen struggled with runners in scoring position. Wareham left two on in the fourth, the bases loaded in the fifth, two on in the sixth, and two on in the ninth allowing the Braves to cling to their one run advantage.
All three Braves runs came in the bottom of the fourth off of Wareham starter Fitz Stadler.
Stadler, after relatively cruising through first three frames, ran into trouble as Richard Palacios reached on a fielding error, and advanced to second on a base hit by Scott Schreiber.
Two batters later, Jared Triolo came through with a two run double down the left field to give the Braves a 2-0 lead. A Scott Fitzgerald infield RBI base hit increased Bourne’s lead to 3-0.
Wareham coach Don Sneddon said the Gatemen were always one hit away.
“We had to get that hit when we needed it and we were just able to do that,” said Sneddon. “In that first, second, and third inning we couldn’t push one across and then they came through with the clutch hits in the fourth.”
Down 3-0 in the top of the fifth, Wareham chipped away as Duran worked a bases loaded walk to cut the Braves lead to 3-1.
Braves reliever PJ Poulin, however, was able to limit the damage by inducing a groundout for the final out of the inning.
Two frames later with Poulin still on the mound, Wareham trimmed the deficit to just one. Robbie Metz reached on a throwing error, stole second, and scored on a fly ball single to left off the bat of Drpich to pull Wareham within 3-2.
All the while, Dalton Roach was sensational on the mound in relief of Gatemen starter Fitz Stadler.
After Stadler went the first four innings, Roach fired home four perfect frames. The right-hander out of Minnesota State kept the Braves hitters off balance throughout his outing often throwing big first pitch curveballs before blowing his 88-mile per hour fastball by them.
In all, Roach finished with seven strikeouts over his four innings.
Most notably, however, Roach allowed the Gatemen to keep a fair amount of their pitching staff fresh for the remainder of the series.
By using only one man out of the bullpen in Roach, pitching coach Jim Lawler should have a multitude of arms available tomorrow including left-handers Grant Wolfram and Riley Gates as well right-handers Barreett Loseke and Brett Conine.
In the meantime, Wareham will put their season’s fate in the hands of Justin Montgomery who will get the ball to start game two.
“Our whole staff has got to be ready,” said Sneddon. “Montgomery has the ball, he has had some struggles recently but hopefully he can step us big for us and get us rolling from there.”
Next Up: Wareham returns home for Game 2 of the Western Division Finals. First pitch from Spillane Field is scheduled for 630pm.