WAREHAM – In a battle for first place, leadoff hitter Jeremy Ydens got things started off with a bang in his first two at bats against Hyannis.
In the bottom of the first, Ydens took the first pitch of the evening he saw and homered to left field giving Wareham a quick 1-0 lead. In the bottom half of the next inning, Ydens had a two-run RBI single to extend the Wareham lead to 3-0.
“That was a two out RBI single too. That’s huge right there,” manager Don Sneddon said. “When he did that, it takes the pressure off the guy before him that wasn’t successful and that was [Skyler] Hunter.”
“That’s what you got to do. Teammates pick each other up.”
On the night, Ydens went 2-3 with three RBI and reached base on a free pass. Ydens’ big game comes on the heels of a mini slump. Over his previous three games, Ydens had struggled as he was hitting just .167 (2-12) with eight strikeouts.
In the top of the first two innings, the Gatemen had two jams to work out of. In the first, Davis Wendzel led off the game with a double, but was stranded in scoring position as Gatemen starter Ryan Garcia retired the next three hitters.
The following inning, Todd Lott doubled with two outs to put another runner in scoring position. Tommy Jew then hit a single to left field and manager Chad Gassman, who is also the third base coach, sent Lott home with two outs.
LF Bryant Packard charged in, fielded the ball cleanly, and fired a laser home. Drew Millas caught the ball and sat there waiting for Lott to arrive. Lott had no chance on the play and did not even attempt a slide.
In the first two innings, Hyannis had chances to score and did not capitalize. Instead, Wareham did. The Gatemen won the first inning 1-0 and the second inning 2-0.
Garcia got the start tonight for Wareham and battled during his three innings of work. Garcia did not have his strikeout pitch working tonight as he only retired three by way of the k after striking out nine in his Gatemen debut. Garcia threw over 70 pitches and it was something Don Sneddon knew was an abnormality.
“Usually he jumps ahead in counts. He threw about 75 pitches in three innings. That’s not the way he pitches,” Sneddon said. “We’ll get him back, it happens. He still managed to only keep them to one run and that’s the sign of a good pitcher.”
The high pitch count forced Sneddon to bring in Easton Lucas into the game earlier than expected. Initially, Sneddon said the plan was for Garcia to pitch five. Lucas came in the game to start the fourth with a 4-1 lead. He threw three scoreless innings before running into trouble in the seventh.
After recording the first out of the seventh, Lucas walked Harbor Hawks leadoff hitter Davis Wendzel, Braden Comeaux would then single, and Seth Gray would walk to load the bases.
Sneddon called upon Cody Carroll to get Wareham out of the inning with the 4-1 lead still intact. The first batter Carroll faced was Matthew Barefoot. Barefoot entered play today red hot as he was hitting .474 over the past week with two homers and seven RBI.
Barefoot even got the best the Gatemen pitching staff earlier this week when he had a two-run homer in Hyannis’ 9-1 route of Wareham on June 26.
This time, Wareham got the best of Barefoot. Carroll delivered two straight strikes to put Barefoot down in the count 0-2. After fouling the next pitch off, Carroll got Barefoot to swing and miss for the second out of the frame.
The next hitter Carroll faced was not any easier. Pedro Pages came to bat and he too was in the middle of a torrid week. Pages also homered versus Wareham on Tuesday and was hitting .471 entering play over the past week.
Carroll lost control and quickly fell behind 3-0 on Pages. With Hyannis on the verge on cutting the lead, Carroll dialed in threw three straight strikes, including one on a full count to strikeout Pages looking.
Cody Carroll (28) celebrates with Drew Millas after escaping bases loaded jam in the seventh (Via Caroline O'Connor).
In the eighth, the Gatemen once again found themselves in a tough spot and the Harbor Hawks were threatening.
After recording the first two outs of the inning, Carroll gave up a single and walked back-to-back hitters to load the bases. This time, Hyannis would not leave the inning empty handed. Comeaux was the next batter and he hit a single to right field scoring Eric Rivera, who entered the game as a pinch hitter.
The Gatemen turned to their bullpen once again as Zach Hart came in to try and work out of trouble. On the second pitch he threw, Hart got Gray to ground out to shortstop, ending the Hyannis threat with minimal damage done.
As far as pitch selection, catcher Drew Millas was the one calling the shots working with Hart and Carroll to get out of both jams. After the game, Millas spoke on his philosophy behind the plate and how he likes to attack hitters.
“Staying aggressive, that’s really what it is. Staying within myself. We’ve got a lot of guys who can really spin it and we have a lot of guys who can attack with the fastball and you’ve just got to know which is which,” Millas said.
In the ninth, Hyannis kept at it and would not go down easily. Barefoot ripped a double down the left field line to begin the inning. He would score two batters later with one away. From there, Hart got the final two men of the game, including a strikeout of Rivera to end it.
In total, the Harbor Hawks stranded seven men on base in the final three innings, four of those seven were left in scoring position.
“They’re a good club. You don’t get away with that very often,” Sneddon said. “We were behind in counts constantly, I think we walked seven guys. You don’t win too many games doing that.”
With the win, the Gatemen improve to 11-6 on the year and have jumped ahead of the Harbor Hawks for first place. Hyannis falls to 10-5-1 and their 6-game winning streak was snapped. Wareham owns a one point lead in the standings (22 points to 21).
“They don’t have 10 wins because they’re not a good club. They’ve won some one run ballgames. And we have to play them again tomorrow,” Sneddon said.
Final: Gatemen 4, Harbor Hawks 3
Next up: The Gatemen (11-6) will go on the road today to complete the home-and-home with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (10-5-1). First pitch at 6:00 p.m. at McKeon Park in Hyannis.