WAREHAM – Tuesday night, the Gatemen offense scattered 12 hits and had only one run to show for it. Tonight, the Gatemen got a rally going in the second when six straight hitters reached base. Wareham scored four runs in the second to push the lead to 5-0 and they never looked back.
“It’s timely hitting. What a difference a day makes. Tonight, we started off right and hit some good pitches,” Gatemen manager Don Sneddon said.
After scoring a run in the first, 2B Oliver Dunn led off the second with a walk and catcher Luke Roskam, who is not the fleetest of foot, defied the odds beating out an infield single. CF Skyler Hunter then came to the plate looking to move the runners over with a sacrifice bunt.
The first pitch to Hunter missed for a ball and then Hunter fouled off his first attempt. Another ball made the count 2-1 before Hunter tried his next attempt. On the fourth pitch, Hunter perfectly placed one down the third base line which moved up the runners successfully. Anglers 3B Ben Ramirez fumbled the ball at third and Hunter reached base safely as well.
With the bases loaded and no down, RF Jeremy Ydens was wore one on his jersey as he was hit by the pitch to drive in the second Gatemen run.
SS Sahid Valenzuela kept the good times rolling as he recorded a two-run RBI single. DH Austin Shenton followed that up with a single to reload the bases, making him the six straight Gatemen to reach base.
LF Bryant Packard hit a deep fly ball to center field as Ydens came in to score the fourth run of the inning, making it a 5-0 Gatemen lead.
“Hitting is contagious, you build off each other. Sahid coming up and doing his thing, lining some up the middle and it gets contagious. It goes right up and down the lineup,” Sneddon said.
In the bottom of the fourth, the Gatemen added two more runs to their total via a home run by left fielder Bryant Packard, giving him three RBI on the night.
“Really really wide zone so what I was thinking was get there early, get the strike because pitchers try and get ahead,” Packard said. “I was just trying to hit the first pitch and he put one middle in and that’s where I was sitting and I was lucky to put it over.”
Over his last six games, Packard has started to see the ball much better. He’s raised his batting average 51 points (.241 to .292) and has homered in two of the last three.
Bryant Packard celebrates his fourth inning homer with Austin Shenton (12). Via Caroline O'Connor
“From the beginning of the season, I was not seeing the ball well at all, so I got off to that two-strike approach,” Packard said.
“As a two-strike approach at school, we widen out. It takes your leverage out, takes your power out, just trying to get hits. I’ve been seeing the ball better, so I’ve gone back to my regular stance, but I still go back to two strikes with two strikes.”
The Gatemen lineup saw six of nine starters record hits tonight and two of the other three scoring runs. Only Pavin Parks, who went 0-4, was held without a hit, run, or RBI.
As for the Gatemen pitching, Wareham received another good start from Joey Matulovich who finally record his first victory of the season in his fourth outing. Matulovich allows one unearned run over five innings while striking out six.
Sneddon did not believe Matulovich was his best tonight, particularly saying that he lacked fastball command. However, Sneddon knew Matulovich would find a way to grind out a good start.
“I don’t think he was real sharp tonight, but I think it was enough to keep him off balance. He gave up a run which is fine, but he battled,” Sneddon said.
“He knows how to battle. He’s a mature young man and just came back without his best stuff and still was able to pitch and that’s what pitchers need to be able to do.”
In relief of Matulovich, right handers Nathan Florence and Zach Hart combined to pitch the final four innings of the game for Wareham. Florence gave up back-to-back homers in the sixth, but the pair would go on to retire 12 of the final 13 Chatham hitters to secure the Gatemen win.
Final: Gatemen 7, Anglers 3
Next up: The Gatemen (10-6) will stay home and play the first of a home-and-home with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (10-4-1). First pitch at 6:30 p.m. at Spillane Field in Wareham.