Wareham’s postseason run began with a head of steam, but it ended in rather sudden fashion.
The Gatemen’s season came to a conclusion on Wednesday night, as they fell to the Bourne Braves, 2-0, in Game 2 of the Western Division Championship Series on a perfect summer evening at Spillane Field.
Wareham, after finishing in fourth place in the Western Division to barely squeak into the Cape Cod Baseball League playoffs, rallied to sweep the top seeded Falmouth Commodores to advance to the Western Division Championship Series for the first time since 2012.
Bourne, however, halted the Gatemen’s valiant effort at their first Cape League title since 2012 with a pair of close victories to sweep the series.
First year Gatemen head coach Don Sneddon said the experience was certainly one he’ll always remember.
“We were not the most talented team but man these kids worked every single day,” said an emotional Sneddon. “Players didn’t give up any at bats. Its always tough, and its tough now because unless you get that golden ring it hurts. The players goals were to get better and I think they got better and can take that back with them to their schools.”
The loss also concludes the two-year Gatemen careers of Robbie Metz, Brett Conine, and Noah Zavolas.
Metz and Zavolas each entered on temporary contracts before, through performance and effort, earned a full roster spot.
Conine, for his part, was one of the top arms on the Gatemen staff through his two seasons becoming the ace in 2016 before turning into a lockdown closer in 2017.
“Kids like those three are those you wish you had as sons,” said Sneddon. “Conine and Zavolas, as good they were, they were also the first one’s here and the last to leave. Metzy was always a grinder. He played all the positions for us, won a couple games for us, and it’ll be great following his senior year.
For the second night in a row, Wareham simply failed to come through with the key hit that very well could have turned the momentum in their favor.
The Gatemen left seven men on base through the first seven inning including leaving a man in scoring position in the third, fifth, and seventh innings.
Wareham’s best opportunity to put their stamp on the ballgame came in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Trailing 1-0, Willie MacIver singled to left and Giovanni Dingcong worked a walk to put two on with one out.
Steven Kwan followed up by hitting a line rocket on one hop, but Braves shortstop Tyler Fitzgerald corralled it on the backhand to begin a 6-4-3 double play.
Despite their inability to push anyone cross, the contest was not without its share of Gatemen highlights.
One of those highlights was on full display in the top of the sixth inning when, with first and third and one man down, Gatemen reliever Barrett Loseke induced a medium depth fly ball to right field.
Dingcong set his feet, made the catch, and threw a perfect strike to MacIver at home plate, who tagged Scott Schreiber to keep the Braves off the scoreboard in the frame.
Lyle Lin handed the Braves an early 1-0 lead in the top half of the third as with two outs, he belted his first home run of the summer into the bleachers in left center field.
The Lin home run was the only blemish on Gatemen starter Justin Montgomery’s line. Montgomery made his first start in eight days and pitched well over 3.1 innings of work. The Western Division All-Star Game’s starting pitcher allowed just one earned run, walked one, and struck out five.
“(Montgomery) needed that to finish his season,” said Sneddon. “He left one pitch up and gave up the home run but it’s good for him and I’m glad he could finish that way. Hopefully he can take that back to his school season.”
Montgomery, despite his success, was lifted after 65 pitches for Will Neely with the Braves threatening to expand their lead.
Neely came on in and quelled that same threat, recording a pair of strikeouts to leave the bases loaded and keep the Gatemen offense within just one run.
Bourne finally pushed across a key insurance run in the top of the eighth inning. Lin worked a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt, and scored on a soft base hit to right off the bat of Jared Triolo to give the Braves a 2-0 lead.
Writer’s note: Thank you for two memorable summers. Covering the Wareham Gatemen on a daily basis has been the experience of a lifetime and it could not have been a success without you, the reader. Whether you are a player, family of a player, friend, host family, or just a fan you are what made showing up to the field everyday so enjoyable. I can’t wait to follow these player’s careers as the seasons and months go on, and will always be a fan of this terrific Cape League organization. - Matt Feld
Next Up: The Gatemen players head home to begin their fall ball and ultimately school season. We will see you next June at Spillane Field!