By: Carter Woodiel
BREWSTER, MA- At times this season for Brewster Whitecaps head coach Jamie Shevchik, the gap between Brewster and the top teams in the Cape League's East division seemed too big to bridge.
Now, though, he thinks his club is hitting its stride -- just in time for the playoffs.
"It seems like our guys, we're kind of peaking at the right time." Shevchik said. "You're supposed to be playing your best baseball towards the end, and it seems like that's what we're doing."
Despite no Brewster pitcher going more than 2 innings and several Whitecaps regulars taking the night off, the Whitecaps beat the first-place Orleans Firebirds 6-2 at Stony Brook Field on Tuesday.
Kyle Datres (North Carolina) had his first home run of the season, Justin Kunz (Gardner-Webb) had two RBI singles and Nick Dunn (Maryland) extended his hitting streak to 17 games in the win.
It was the Whitecaps' fourth win in their last five games. Only two games remain on the schedule before the Cape League playoffs start on Saturday.
Brewster will face either Orleans or Yarmouth-Dennis in the first round. The Whitecaps have beaten those teams in consecutive games after a 5-1 win at Y-D on Sunday.
"I think it's big for our team's confidence," Shevchik said of the wins. "They know that they can play with these guys."
Brewster took the lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI single from Christian Molfetta (Stanford). It was Molfetta's third straight game with an RBI.
Zack Gahagan (North Carolina) drove in a run with a single in the second, followed by an infield single from Dunn that drove in a third run, and kept his hitting streak alive.
"I was just trying to stick to my approach, stay simple, and just wait for a pitch I can drive," Dunn said.
Firebirds manager Kelly Nicholson pulled starter Logan Gilbert (Stetson) after the second inning. Gilbert gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits, walking one and striking out two.
The Whitecaps added two more runs in the fifth inning, starting with Datres' home run. Datres hit a solo shot on the first pitch he saw from Firebirds reliever (and Tar Heels teammate) Taylor Sugg.
Kunz followed the home run up with an RBI single later in the frame. He'd add another in the seventh, bringing his season RBI total to nine.
The two Orleans runs came in the top of the sixth when Ethan Paul homered to right field. The two-run shot was his fourth of the season.
Tuesday was a "staff day" for Whitecaps pitching, with Shevchik writing out in advance who would pitch when and for how long.
Not everything went according to plan, but five Whitecaps pitchers held the Firebirds to five hits for the game, walking two and striking out eight.
Tony Locey (Georgia), whom Shevchik considers the ace of Brewster's staff, threw the first two innings without allowing a baserunner. He struck out two and walked none.
"Before the game I told myself I was going a complete game, just to make sure I knew I prepared myself," Locey said, adding he made a point of working to prevent walks on the mound.
"Sometimes it can be tough coming in, only locking in for a couple innings, and that was good that they did that," Kunz, who caught all nine innings for Brewster, said of his team's staff. "You have to tip your hats to 'em."
WHAT’S NEXT: Brewster takes the short drive Harwich, taking on the Mariners Wednesday night at 6:30. Fans can listen to the game on the Whitecaps' YouTube channel.