COTUIT – Trailing 3-0 entering the ninth inning, the Wareham Gatemen stormed back to tie the game and eve take a 4-3 lead in one of the most exciting ninth innings of the Cape League season. The only problem? They had a bottom of the ninth to play.
In the end, the Kettleers scratched a run across in the bottom half as the final score would be 4-4 in a game that would be called after nine due to darkness.
Gian Martellini's pinch-hit singled tied the score 3-3 in a game the Gatemen would ultimately tied 4-4 (via Caroline O'Connor).
“I’d rather have two points, but that didn’t happen,” Don Sneddon said. “For whatever reason, we couldn’t get that last out. Give them credit. They battled back, they could have rolled over too. I am happy that we came back just to show we are still in this thing. Battling back for three when we had been dominated is pretty impressive.”
To begin the ninth, Austin Shenton doubled to the opposite field to give the Gatemen their first base runner of the inning. Jeremy Ydens then grounded out to third base as Shenton advanced to third on the play. The next batter, Drew Millas, hit an RBI single into right field to get the Gatemen on the board which cut the Cotuit lead to 3-1.
Lael Lockhart Jr. was then hit by a pitch for the second time in the game which put the tying run one first. Luke Roskam kept the line moving when he singled to center field to load the bases with just one away.
Due up next for Wareham was their number eight hitter, Ryan Kreidler, who was 0-for-3 on the day.
Despite his tough day at the plate, he was 3-for-7 in his prior to games with homers in each of the last two and was swinging a good bat. However, Kreidler would not get the chance as he was called back for pinch hitter Gian Martellini.
Why the pinch hitter?
“I hoped somebody would ask that question. That is one of those gut feelings as a manager. Just something inside of me. He’s [Martellini] been swinging the bat well and said he’d be ready,” Sneddon said with a smile.
Martellini, who entered the game 5-for-9 with a homer and three RBIs at Lowell Park this year, promptly delivered an RBI single up the middle to score two runs and tie the game 3-3.
After a Skyler Hunter fly out, Isaac Collins delivered for his team by singling to right to score the go-ahead run and give the Gatemen a 4-3 lead.
In total, the Gatemen offense scored four runs off five hits in the ninth after producing just three through the game’s first eight innings.
In the bottom of the ninth, Joey Baran, entering his third inning of relief, was back on the hill to try and close out the game for Wareham.
Everything was going according to plan as Baran got the first two hitters of the ninth to strike out. Cotuit was down to their final out.
Down to their final strike, Zach Humphreys singled to right field to put the tying run on base for the Kettleers’ nine-hole hitter, Brady Smith.
On the first pitch he saw, Smith hit a high chopper over the pitcher’s mound and it was fielded by Oliver Dunn charging in. It was a do-or-die play for Dunn as he reached with the barehand to field the ball off the hop.
Dunn fielded it cleanly and quickly threw across his body to try and end the ballgame. On a bang-bang play, Smith was ruled safe by the first base umpire.
With the single by Smith, Cotuit had worked its way back up to the top of the batting order and the Kettleers had exactly the right man up at the plate.
Will Robertson, who was already working on a three-hit game, singled to score the runner from second base and tie the game 4-4.
Zach Biermann was up next with a chance to win it, but he was hit with a pitch up and in on a 2-2 count even though Sneddon and the Wareham side thought it was instead a foul ball that hit the bat nob, not his wrist.
“It didn’t look like he got hit by a pitch. Whether he did or not I don’t know,” Sneddon said.
“The umpire changed his call because he said he saw red stiches on his hand which was all taped. It would be sort of hard to see where there would be red stitching on the hand if his hand was taped, which is my comment to the umpire.”
With the bases loaded and two away, Michael Toglia stepped up to the plate and was going to be the last batter of the day. He was either going to win it for Cotuit or the game would end in a tie as it was already 7:47 p.m. and the sun was beginning to set.
Baran made quick work of Toglia and got him to strike out on three pitches to end the inning as well as the game.
In total, the Gatemen used four pitchers (Jack Ralston, Ryan Garcia, Jared Horn, and Joey Baran) in what was a bullpen day for the staff as Wareham saves their bullets for the playoffs later this week.
“They did pretty well. It was a good bullpen day,” Sneddon said about his pitching. “I am happy for Baran to bear down and get that last out for us. That was huge even though other things did not go his way. I thought he [Brady Smith] was out at first base which could have won the game, but he did not lose his composure.”
Final: Gatemen 4, Kettleers 4
Next up: The Gatemen (24-16-2) are home for the final time of the regular season Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. to play the Bourne Braves (17-24-1) in the first of a home-and-home.