WAREHAM- A pitching duel between two Second Team All-Americans lived up to the hype early and made for a dramatic ending late.
With the Harwich Mariners down 2-1 in the eighth, Harwich 1B Andre Lipcius roped an opposite field RBI double off Wareham’s RHP Dominic Savino with two out to tie the game.
The damage would have been worse if not for an excellent relay (RF Dominic Clementi to 2B Isaac Collins to C Drew Millas) to cut down the go ahead run at the plate.
In the ninth, Collins drew a one out walk for the Gatemen bringing up 1B Andrew Vaughn.
Vaughn, who already had two hits on the night, ripped a double into the right center field gap. Collins may have been able to score from first but he did not get a great jump on the hit and was held up at third.
LF Bryant Packard stepped up to bat with runners on second and third and a chance to win it for the Gatemen.
Despite an open base, Harwich elected to pitch to Packard instead of trying to set up a force at any base or a double play.
This is where things got interesting. Mariners’ right fielder Justin Ammons exited the game and was replaced by INF Daniel Casals to make a five-man infield in an attempt to keep the ball from reaching the outfield.
It did not work.
Packard worked the count full and drove a fly ball that was caught in left field. Collins went back to the bag, tagged, and raced home. The throw from the left fielder Ben Norman was way late and sailed high.
Ballgame. The Gatemen walk it off in the home opener.
“He [reliever Cal Krueger] threw a lot of fastballs away. That’s what I was sitting on,” Bryant Packard said. “The five infielders came in, so I was just focused on hitting it over the shortstop’s head and it worked out.”
Before reaching the exciting conclusion, there was quite a pitching duel going on.
Gatemen LHP Ken Waldichuk pitched four innings allowing just one run, struck out six, and walked none. It was certainly the outing he was hoping for in his Gatemen debut.
In his final frame, Waldichuk struck out the side in the fourth. Photo: Caroline O'Connor.
“We see some things that we really like. He’s [Waldichuk] a competitor and he’s a good pitcher,” manager Don Sneddon said. “That’s what we have to have in this league.”
A main key to Waldichuk’s success tonight was the ability to throw strikes. Waldichuk had excellent command throwing 43 of his 59 pitches for strikes.
On the other side, Mariners’ RHP Ricky DeVito allowed just two runs with only one of them being earned. The final line for DeVito read four strikeouts, four hits, and three walks over four innings of work.
Despite the good pitching tonight, the offenses were able to scrap runs off these dominant starters.
For the Gatemen, they jumped on DeVito in both the second and fourth innings.
Bryant Packard led off the second inning by smacking a double that buried the center fielder. Two batters later, DH Parker Phillips hit an RBI double to left field to give the Gatemen a 1-0 lead.
In the fourth, DeVito was cruising along as he retired the first two men of the inning. Then, trouble started.
DeVito walked back-to-back hitters and 3B Austin Shenton followed the walks with a single which loaded the bases to bring up RF Eric Gilgenbach.
Before Gilgenbach finished his at bat, an errant pickoff throw by the catcher Brad Debo went into the outfield allowing the Gatemen to score their second run of the evening.
In between the two Gatemen runs, Harwich got on the scoreboard themselves in the third inning. DH Gabriel Rivera had an RBI single with two outs off Waldichuk.
The Gatemen offense did not burst out like it did last night when they exploded for 12 runs.
Wareham left 10 men on base tonight and had just one hit with runners in scoring position. Vaughn and Shenton were two of the few bright spots for the Gatemen offense tonight as they each recorded three hits.
Even though the Wareham bats did not have a good game, Sneddon was more upset with a different facet of his team’s offense.
“We have to improve our hitting but more importantly tonight we have to improve our base running,” Sneddon said.
“Our base running almost lost that game for us,” Sneddon said. “We had three critical base running mistakes that we could have scored runs on. That has to improve. We can’t be timid on that.”
As for the hitting, Gatemen fans should get use to more low scoring games.
“It’s tough. This is good pitching and they’re using wood bats for the first time. It’s going to be an adjustment,” Sneddon said. “That’s a typical Cape Cod game right there.”
Final: Gatemen 3, Mariners 2
Next up: The Gatemen (2-0) will play at home again Thursday night against the Cotuit Kettleers (1-0) at Spillane Field. First pitch at 6:30 p.m.