By: Koki Riley
BREWSTER, M.A. – “At this point, they’re playing for pride.”
The words of Whitecaps play-by-play announcer Frankie Vernouski in the third inning of Brewster’s 12-11 defeat to the Harwich Mariners (15-17).
Before a seven-run third inning from the Mariners offense seemed to dash the hopes of a Brewster win and a return to a playoff spot in the Eastern Division, pregame the Whitecaps seemed ready to flip the script.
At no point during the regular season had Brewster lost three games in a row until this week. And with the last three games coming against divisional leaders Wareham and Chatham, the Whitecaps were due for a break from the elite of the Cape League.
Against a Mariners team that was last in batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage, home runs and runs, it seemed like Wednesday was the day where it would all turn around for Brewster.
But three runs came across in the first inning with two outs. Another run came across in the second and then the third inning happened.
Five singles, a three-run home run from Niko Kavadas (Notre Dame) and a walk supplied all the offense Harwich needed in their 11-0 third inning lead.
“Again, I think the same thing goes back to what we’ve already been talking about for what feels like forever,” Whitecaps head coach Jamie Shevchik said after the loss. “It’s hard to win games when you’re down by (a lot) in the first (few innings).”
It was deflating, crushing and even heartbreaking. Enough of a deficit to understand why Brewster would throw in the towel.
But, they didn’t.
In the very next inning, the Whitecaps went on to score six runs. The rally included a two-run shot from Tyler Hardman (Oklahoma) in the six-hit inning that cut the Harwich lead to just five.
A run in the fifth for Harwich bumped their advantage back up to six. But, the Brewster comeback was not finished.
Two home runs, first a two-run shot from Kurt Wilson (Texas Tech) and then a three-run shot from Hardman made the score 12-11 in the Mariners favor.
All 23 runs in the ballgame transpired in just six innings.
“Our guys they stayed loose and they stayed to their approach,” Shevchik said. “Ultimately we had a shot to do something in the end.”
With a thunderstorm on the move, the clouds above Stony Brook Field went from gray to black in what felt like an instant to start the seventh frame. And before anyone could process what was happening above their heads the game was over.
“In 2017, we were playing Harwich right here (at Stony Brook Field) and down 11-2,” Shevchik said. “We scored 10 runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and hit a home run in the dark to win the game.
“I was hoping for that same result but we came up an inning too short or a batter too short.”
Brewster’s comeback for the ages was interrupted not because of a second offensive explosion from the Harwich bats or a silencing of the Whitecaps offense, it was because of the weather.
As frustrating as that may seem, Brewster still surrendered 12 runs including 11 in just three innings. And with the Mariners now ahead of the Whitecaps by three points for fourth place in the division, nights like these on the mound can no longer be affordable.
“We’re not finding any consistency yet,” Shevchik said. “And we’re running out of time.”