BREWSTER – July 18 is certainly a day the Wareham Gatemen would like to forget. The Gatemen dropped both their games yesterday to two different teams in two different towns.
First, Wareham finished their protested game with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, but they lost 6-5. Then, the Gatemen traveled a half hour up the road only to drop their second game of the day to the Brewster Whitecaps 5-3.
With the losses yesterday, the Gatemen are now 4-5-1 in their last 10 and are three points behind the Harbor Hawks for first place in the West Division.
“We are still a very confident group of guys. Today didn’t go our way but we are not going to feel sorry for ourselves and take things out of this game,” catcher Drew Millas said.
The Gatemen looked poised to take their second game of the day when they got off to a strong start behind 2018 CCBL All-Star Ryan Garcia.
Garcia was hoping to pick up his second win of the season and he turned in his best outing of the summer. In his previous four starts, Garcia had allowed exactly one run in each game. Yesterday, Garcia did not allow any runs over his five innings of work.
Ryan Garcia finished his outing with his first 1-2-3 inning in the fifth (via Caroline O'Connor).
“Garcia did his thing today. He’s an All-Star in this league for a reason,” Millas said. “Night in and night out he puts in work and it showed again today. He’s an awesome pitcher and his work ethic is the reason for it.”
When Garcia left the game, Wareham was ahead 3-0 and he had lowered his ERA to 1.71 in his final appearance before the All-Star game. He threw just 71 pitches (44 for strikes) and struck out eight batters, one shy of his season high.
“His last two innings were phenomenal. He really started to get fastball control. He was able to move in it and out which made his breaking ball look even better. He looked All-Star worthy right there,” manager Don Sneddon said.
Staying true to the plan on a day where Garcia starts, Sneddon turned to his bullpen and put in another 2018 CCBL All-Star, Easton Lucas. When the two have pitched on the same day, Wareham was 2-0-1 this season.
Lucas’ 2018 Cape League campaign had been even more impressive than Garcia’s entering the game yesterday. Lucas had a sub one ERA (0.91) in 19.2 IP to go along with a 1-1 record.
Once Lucas entered the game though, it was clear he was not in All-Star form.
Lucas walked the first hitter he faced in the sixth and then gave up a single to the next hitter.
With runners on first and second, the Whitecaps got some home field advantage. Conor Grammes hit a grounder to short that was ticked to be a double play ball, but instead the ball took a wicked hop. It hit the lip of the infield grass and bounced all the way over the head of Gatemen shortstop Ryan Kreidler, who stands at 6-foot-4. One run came around to score on the hit, and the Whitecaps now had runners on the corners with no outs.
Lucas limited the damaged in this inning, but not before Brewster scored another run to cut the Wareham lead to 3-2.
After the Gatemen went scoreless in the top of the seventh, Lucas took the mound hoping settle in and keep Wareham ahead.
To begin the inning, Lucas allowed three straight singles and was pulled for Zach Hart, who inherited a very difficult situation of bases loaded, no outs, Gatemen ahead by one.
“Lucas is normally a groundball pitcher and he got a lot of groundballs today and they just found the holes. It’s one of those days”, Millas said. “[Jim] Lawler said on the mound the baseball gods were not on his side today, so it happens.”
Hart got a big first out of the inning by striking out Brandon Martorano to set up a double play with one away. Hart nearly escaped the jam as he got Grammes to hit a ground ball up the middle that Kreidler made a diving stop for and recorded the out at second. Sahid Valenzuela’s throw on to first had no chance to get the final out of the inning as Grammes had too much speed on the bases.
The tying run came in to score on the play, knocking the win out of play for Ryan Garcia.
“We have to have people to back him up otherwise his outing is overwhelmed and not seen because it gets lost in the box score,” Sneddon. “That was a super outing and I am really proud of him.”
Hunter Bishop then had the biggest at-bat of the night when he singled to put Brewster ahead 4-3, giving him his second RBI of the night and his first with two outs.
The fourth Whitecaps run of the night closed the book on Easton Lucas who went just 1+ IP and allowed four runs on five hits and two walks.
“Lucas will be fine, he will improve from that. He’s had a good summer, and this is part of pitching,” Sneddon. “It’s how you learn from the losses and how you learn to pitch when you have 70% of your stuff. That’s an art too because you’re probably never going to have 100% of your stuff.”
Brewster added one more run before the inning’s end and held a 5-3 lead entering the eighth.
The Gatemen would go scoreless in the eighth, but they would not go quietly in the ninth. After the first two hitters of the inning were retired, Millas singled to center field and Skyler Hunter legged out an infield singled, with Millas advancing to third on a throwing error. The error in the ninth was the fifth error on the night for Brewster.
With the go-ahead run at the plate, Valenzuela worked the count to 1-2 before taking a called strike three to end it.
The loss to Brewster finishes up the season series between the two teams. The home team won every game in this matchup as the Gatemen went just 2-2 against the last place Whitecaps.
Final: Whitecaps 5, Gatemen 3
W- Ben Dragani (1-2, 3.32 ERA)
L- Easton Lucas (1-2, 2.61 ERA)
Next up: The Gatemen (18-13-1) go on the road today to play the Harwich Mariners (14-17-2). First pitch at 6:30 p.m. at Whitehouse Field in Harwich.