WAREHAM – With the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth inning, a pair of Austin’s, Bergner vs. Shenton, squared off for the biggest at-bat of the night in a 0-0 tie.
Austin Bergner, the Chatham starting pitcher, had gone 4.2 IP allowing just four hits and had not walked a batter. Yet, in the fifth, he got into trouble.
After striking out Lael Lockhart Jr. to start the inning, Oliver Dunn got on base when he ripped a double to right field. Ryan Kreidler joined him on the bases as he got hit with the very next pitch.
With runners on first and second, Chatham’s Greg Jones made an error that proved to be costly. Isaac Collins was up next and he hit a hard grounder to the left side of the infield. Jones fielded it cleanly at short and tried for the heads up play to get the lead runner at third, knowing he would not turn a double play.
Jones’ throw to the third baseman Ben Ramirez was in time to get Dunn at third, but it pulled Ramirez off the bag. Everyone was safe. After a Jakob Goldfarb pop out to second, in stepped the other Austin with two away.
Wareham's Austin Shenton, who entered the day hitting .600 in the playoffs, cleared the bases with a three-run RBI double to put Wareham ahead 3-0 in their 5-3 Game 1 win of the CCBL Championship series.
“It’s a good win. They can hit the ball, so you don’t relax until that last out is recorded. Pitching did a great job. They can swing the bat. They have three times as many homers as we do,” Gatemen manager Don Sneddon said.
The RBIs for Shenton were his ninth of the playoffs in just five games so far. In addition, Shenton has now recorded an RBI in seven straight games and eight of nine overall. He now has 16 RBIs over his last nine games.
“Shenton struck out a couple times and he was upset. That is what he remembers. That is the kind of competitor he is,” Sneddon said. “But I love having him up with men in scoring position. He’s the guy who thrives in those situations.”
Ryan Garcia got the start for Wareham as they turned to their ace for Game 1 and he delivered. Despite having control issues (three walks and a hit by pitch), Garcia did not allow a run and stranded seven men on base.
Ryan Garcia (right) celebrates a scoreless first inning with his catcher Drew Millas (left) during Wareham's 5-3 win. Photo by Caroline O'Connor
“It was a gutty performance from him, he’s a competitor. If I started a college team, he’d be my first selection. I look forward to seeing him pitch at UCLA this year,” Sneddon said.
Garcia’s biggest jam came in the top of the fourth inning when the bases were loaded with two outs. Kyle McCann was up for Chatham and he hit a weak grounder to short that was a difficult play for Kreidler to make.
Kreidler came charging in, fielded it on two hops, and fired across the diamond to end the inning without a run coming in to score.
After that, Garcia came out for his final inning in the fifth and worked around a Spencer Torkelson one-out double to finish the night without having allowed a run. Garcia’s final stat line read five innings, three hits, three walks, a hit batsman, and seven strikeouts.
Easton Lucas was the next pitcher out of the bullpen for Wareham. He worked a scoreless sixth before giving up a solo homer to Torkelson in the seventh inning which put the Anglers on the board.
Torkelson was one of the few bright spots in the Chatham lineup as he went 2-5 with the double and home run. His shot in the seventh went halfway up the bleachers in left field traveling 402-feet.
The Gatemen responded back with two runs of their own in the bottom half to extend the lead to 5-1. Collins began the inning with a leadoff single and he came around to score when Jakob Goldfarb smacked an RBI triple.
Two batters later, Goldfarb scored on a sacrifice fly by Jeremy Ydens and the score would hold at 5-1 until the ninth.
In the ninth, Lucas came back out for his fourth inning of work, but he would not record an out. After walking the leadoff hitter, a cardinal sin in baseball, Lucas surrendered a two-run homer to Tristin English who entered the game as a pinch hitter.
With nobody out in the inning, the Anglers were down just two runs and had the top of the order up. Wareham turned to the pen once more and called upon Joey Baran to close out the game.
After Blake Sabol reached on an error by Lockhart Jr. at first, Baran got the next three hitters out in a row to end the ballgame.
Lockhart made up for the error as he recorded the final out of the game on a three unassisted. He made a diving stop on a ground ball and tagged the bag from his knees to secure the Game 1 win.
“It’s a lot of guys having fun just playing baseball,” Jakob Goldfarb said about the team dynamic. “Don [Sneddon] leads with good emotion. He doesn’t let us get too high when we are winning and doesn’t let us get too low when we are losing. We stay even keeled. I think that has been the key all season: just go out there and have fun.”
The Gatemen have now won five in a row, their longest winning streak of the season, and will now have a chance to win their first CCBL championship since 2012. So how are they going to do it?
“We are just going to have to keep playing our game. We have been rolling in the postseason and really all season. Just come out and be relaxed and do our thing. We have two more games if we need it to get one more win. We are feeling pretty good,” Goldfarb said.
Final: Gatemen 5, Anglers 3
Next up: The Gatemen will try and close out the CCBL season tonight as they play the Anglers on Sunday Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. in Chatham.