COTUIT – In a do-or-die game for the Kettleers, the CCBL All-Star Garrett Gayle entered the top of the ninth for Cotuit with the score tied 5-5. Gayle was the fifth pitcher to come in for Cotuit on the day and amazingly enough, Cotuit was right in a ballgame in which their starter had lasted just a third of an inning.
To get to this point, Zane Collins was pulled after allowing three runs in the first and recording just one out. Luke Chevalier, Seth Shuman, and Stephen Schoch combined to go 7.2 innings and keep the Kettleers in the game and give Cotuit a chance to head back to Spillane Field for a decisive Game 3 on Tuesday night.
“They threw what they had,” Gatemen manager Don Sneddon said. “I was sort of thinking towards tomorrow since they didn’t have anything left and I was pretty comfortable with that, but I didn’t want to go to tomorrow.”
After the ninth inning performance turned in by Wareham, there would be no tomorrow for Cotuit.
The Gatemen broke the game open by scoring a season-high 10 runs in the inning off nine hits on their way to a series-clinching 15-6 win.
“We got to the ninth and didn’t think we’d score that many, but we certainly enjoyed it,” Sneddon said.
Oliver Dunn got the inning started for Wareham by working a leadoff walk after falling behind in an 0-2 count. Austin Shenton then came to the plate and smoked a ball that the shortstop had lined up perfectly as it looked to be a double-play ball. Then, the baseball gods intervened.
The ball smacked the pitcher’s mound and took a wicked hop over the head of the shortstop and into centerfield for a base hit.
“Off the bat, obviously I was like ‘that’s a knock’, but then the shortstop is right there,” Shenton said. “Honestly, that was probably the best ball I hit all day, exit velocity wise.”
“That happens and it has happened to us. We have had balls hit right to [Ryan] Kreidler and it bounces over his head. It’s the game of baseball,” Sneddon added.
Dunn advanced to third on the hit and the Gatemen had runners on the corners with nobody out.
Jeremy Ydens, the league’s leading RBI man, stepped up to the plate and he was hit by the pitch for the third time of the day to load the bases for Wareham.
Luke Roskam would then deliver the biggest Gatemen hit of the year as he singled up the middle to score two runs and the Gatemen took a 7-5 lead. After that, the floodgates opened.
Lael Lockhart (18), Jeremy Ydens (7), and Austin Shenton (12) celebrate after scoring runs in their big first inning in which Wareham took a 3-0 lead (via Caroline O'Connor).
The first nine Wareham hitters of the inning reached base and they would all come around to score runs in the frame. Four different Cotuit pitchers were used to get out of the inning and only one of them, Michael Young, would record an out.
“Whatever this team does doesn’t surprise me. I’ve had a couple wild moments with them this summer and that was another one right there in that ninth inning,” Sneddon said.
Gayle, who suffered the loss in this game, had only allowed a single earned run in 20.2 IP this summer. Despite being Cotuit’s best reliver all summer, he did not record an out and gave up four runs when it mattered most.
Two innings prior, Cotuit’s other All-Star reliever, Stephen Schoch, faltered as well and allowed the Gatemen to tie the game.
With Wareham trailing 5-4 in the seventh inning, Schoch surrendered a home run to Austin Shenton, his second of the series, and the game was tied up 5-5.
“Shenton has done that all year; he’s a great player. In my opinion, he is the best hitter in the Cape,” Sneddon said. “I know so other people might have a little higher average. But as far as playing every single game, hitting for average, RBIs, he is the best hitter by far.”
“So, Oliver was up at the plate and he got out and I was like ‘dang man’, but I was feeling pretty good,” Shenton said with a smile. “I just went up to the plate and wanted to tie the game up for my team and do as much as I can. Luckily, I did. I just tried to get my swing on a good pitch.”
Shenton finished 4-for-5 with four runs scored, a homer, a triple, and three RBIs and is hitting .750 in the playoffs so far.
On the day for his team, the Gatemen had eight out 10 hitters record an RBI, nine of 10 score a run, five with multi-hit games, five with multi-RBI games, and a whopping 18 hits.
“That was a pretty special run.It’s hard to hit, plain and simple,” Shenton said. “The ball seems a little bit bigger when everybody is hitting it, too.”
With the win, the Gatemen have advanced to the West Division Finals for the second straight year and will have home field advantage once that series gets underway as Hyannis and Falmouth are still finishing their series. When. When the games begin, Shenton likes his team’s chances.
“I think we are a team that weathers the storm pretty well. We have had a lot of late comebacks, a lot of times where we have been down and we just keep fighting,” Shenton said.
“We have a pretty big never-give-up attitude and I think that’s why we have a shot at making a run for this thing.”
Final: Gatemen 15, Kettleers 6
Next up: The Gatemen will play Game 1 of the West Division Finals at home either on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. or Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. No official date or opponent is set yet as Wareham awaits the conclusion of the Hyannis vs. Falmouth series. Updates to come.