WAREHAM – Ryan Garcia had not given up an earned run since July 12. That did not change yesterday. Garcia tossed five shutout innings in Wareham’s 3-2 win over the Cotuit Kettleers in game one of the West Division Series as the Gatemen now lead the best of three series 1-0.
Garcia, who recorded his third total win of the summer, did not allow a hit over his five innings of work and had only four runners reach base off him (two walks and two errors). He also had eight strikeouts to add to his impressive line.
“Money. Just money. He’s done it all summer. It is not by accident at all,” Don Sneddon said about Garcia.
“He wanted to throw that fifth inning and he was right at that pitch count limit and said, ‘coach I got this I’ll get them out 10 pitches’. He talked me into it and I’m glad he did. That ended up being a big shutdown inning.”
In order for the top of the fifth to be a shutdown inning, the Gatemen needed to score in the bottom of the fourth and they did just that when Austin Shenton went big fly to right field to give the Gatemen a 1-0 lead. The homer for Shenton was his third in his last five games after homering just twice in the previous forty games this summer.
The Shenton homer came off Griffin McLarty, the starter for the Kettleers last night, and it was virtually one of the only mistakes he made all night.
McLarty, who entered the game with a 5.28 ERA this summer, has been throwing the ball much better of late and it showed in the game yesterday.
He went five innings and just allowed the one run off three hits while striking out seven. McLarty’s prior two times out he gave up one run in 8.1 IP after giving up 17 runs in 20.1 IP in his first five appearances this season.
After the Gatemen took the lead in the fourth, Garcia came back out for that shutdown inning and he did not disappoint. He proceeded to strike out the side in order during his final frame as he got all three hitters to swing and miss at the fastball.
“At the end, his fastball was much better. Earlier, it was not hitting spots and at the end, it was. He was just blowing it by some guys,” Sneddon said.
“I think he got a little pissed off and started coming after them a little bit. He’s a great pitcher. One of the best I’ve seen at being at get four pitches over and compete. You’d love to have 10 guys like him.”
Despite the stellar effort from Garcia, the Gatemen held a slim 1-0 lead after his departure. Wareham turned the ball over next to Easton Lucas just like they have done all summer long.
Lucas worked his way through a scoreless sixth and seventh as the Gatemen were still clinging to the 1-0 lead.
Then, in the bottom of the seventh, they got some insurance.
With Jakob Goldfarb on first and two away, it did not look like Wareham would get much going in the inning. That all changed when Isaac Collins flipped a ball into right field that barely landed fair. The speedster cruised into second base to put two runners in scoring position setting up a big moment for Oliver Dunn.
Oliver Dunn fields a ground ball in the first inning of the 3-2 Gatemen win over the Kettleers (via Caroline O'Connor).
Dunn, who was hitless on the night, delivered a two out knock to score both runs and put Wareham ahead 3-0.
“I was just trying to approach it like I do every other at bat: get a pitch I can hit and drive. He gave me one in that count and I was able to plate those two runs,” Dunn said.
“I knew he had been throwing a lot of sliders. I was just trying to see it out over the plate. He doesn’t throw really hard, so I wasn’t trying to pick out an individual pitch necessarily, just get something middle I can drive.”
The hit for Dunn has been something the Gatemen have come to expect in recent days as Dunn is now far removed from his early season woes.
After his first 42 at-bats this summer, Dunn had recorded just three hits and was batting .071. In fact, Dunn went over a month in between hits (June 17-July 18).
Recently, he has been the hottest hitter on the team. Dunn entered play hitting .484 over his last eight games (13-for-28) and attributes his recent success to seeing more time on the field.
“Baseball is definitely a rhythm sport, the more you can play and get out their get in those tense situations, the more you get better at it. It’s been nice to play a few days in a row and get in rhythm,” Dunn said.
The 3-0 lead for Wareham held entering the ninth as Easton Lucas came back onto the mound for his fourth inning of work as he was the initial reliever to come in for Garcia.
After working the count full, Lucas walked the leadoff hitter and then threw ball one to the next hitter he faced. That was enough for Sneddon as he called to the pen for Joey Baran to enter the game.
Baran immediately retired the first hitter he faced as he got Raphael Chaumette to fly out to left. The next Cotuit batter, Peyton Burdick, also hit a ball to left except this one would not be caught.
On a 2-1 count, Baran hung a curveball and Burdick deposited it over the wall in left field making it a one run game with still two outs to go.
In a déjà vu moment from last week, Baran struck out the next hitter as the Kettleers were down to their final out. The next three hitters reached base for Cotuit setting up the bases loaded with two down and the game on the line.
Last week, Baran was in a similar situation. Wareham was up 4-3 in the ninth with two down and the Kettleers rallied for three straight singles to tie the game 4-4 and that is where the score would remain as the teams tied.
The game then came down to Trey Jacobs, the Cotuit number three hitter. Jacobs was just playing in his third game this summer for Cotuit and the moment could not have been bigger.
On an 0-2 count, Jacobs hit a ball in the towards third base as Shenton ranged to his left to field the ball.
Shenton got a glove on it and fielded the ball cleanly. With his momentum taking him towards to his left and a force at any base, Shenton decided to go the short way to second base to try and get the final out.
This set up a race to the bag between the base runner, Michael Toglia, and Oliver Dunn, the second baseman. On a bang-bang play, Dunn barely beat Toglia to the bag and caught the strike fired over from Shenton. Ballgame over. Gatemen 3, Kettleers 2.
“I better get to second base is what’s going through my head,” Dunn said on the game’s final play.
“I was probably playing too deep in the hole from what the guy had been doing on the day, so it was partly my fault for getting there so late. Midway through, I thought I better just turn it on a little bit. I was just glad we got him,” Dunn said with a smile on his face.
Final: Gatemen 3, Kettleers 2
Next up: The Gatemen travel to Lowell Park to play game two with the Kettleers today at 3 p.m. at Cotuit. Wareham now leads the best of three series 1-0.