By: Koki Riley
BREWSTER, MA - After dropping their previous three games, the Brewster Whitecaps came back from a 7-2 deficit to earn their second tie of the season in an 8-8 game against the Hyannis Harbor Hawks on Friday night.
“It’s not how we wanted it, but we battled back,” said Whitecaps outfielder Steele Walker (Oklahoma). “Obviously not two points, but one point, we’ll take it. We battled back as a team and bonded a little bit together and it wasn’t a loss, so we’ll move on from that.”
The Whitecaps (15-17-2) kick started their rally in the sixth inning when Marty Costes (Maryland) blasted his fifth home run of the season, cutting the five-run deficit to just two.
“I’m just taking advantage of the opportunity I’ve been given,” Costes said. “I’m having fun with these guys and I’m glad they battled to the point where I was even in that situation. It was a good guy on the mound and a 3-2 count. He threw a good pitch and I was lucky to get a bat on it.”
After Hyannis (11-20-3) responded with a run in the seventh, the Whitecaps shortened their deficit from three to one, courtesy of a home run from Walker, making it an 8-7 ballgame.
“Today, I was just trying to stay relaxed, stay loose, not press to hard, and not try to do too much,” said Walker. “I got a couple good pitches to hit and I was able to drive one out of the yard and get our team back in it so I was thankful for that.”
The home run from Walker was his first homer of the season and part of a three-hit day, going 3-5 with the two runs batted in.
“Oh, it’s awesome. If you can have a coach’s support, it’s all a player can ask for,” Walker said about playing under coach Jamie Shevchik. “It makes you want to go out and play hard for him. I’m thankful that I have a coach that supports me no matter what, respects my game and appreciates my value and I just want to go out there and play as hard as I can and make him proud.”
Brewster finally tied the game in the eighth inning thanks to a sacrifice fly to right field from A.J. Graffanino (Washington), driving in Chandler Taylor (Alabama) from third base and knotting the game at eight.
In the ninth inning, it seemed as if Nick Dunn (Maryland) won the game for Brewster on a walk-off home run, but after some conferencing between the umpires it was determined that Dunn’s shot to center field was instead a ground-rule double.
This still left a prime opportunity for Brewster to win the game, however, with a runner in scoring position, just one out, and the middle of the order coming up.
However, after an intentional walk to Mickey Gasper (Bryant), back-to-back strikeouts of Hunter Bishop (Arizona State) and Taylor by Hyannis reliever Ethan Larrison (Indiana State) ended the game as the umpires ruled out extra-innings due to darkness.
“Every game counts from here on out,” Costes said. “It was big for us to not hang our heads today and comeback and make it a game there at the end.”
Before Brewster’s comeback, the Harbor Hawks scored at least run in four consecutive innings between the second and fifth frames.
Hyannis crossed two in the second on a Hunter Stovall (Mississippi State) double and a Hunter Stovall (Rice) single.
Then in the third, the Harbor Hawks extended their lead to 4-2 on a Robert Neustrom (Iowa) home run to right field.
One of the strangest plays of the season resulted in two more Hyannis runs in the top of the fourth.
With two runners on and two outs, Reece Hampton (UNC-Charlotte) lined a single to center field, easily scoring the first runner from second. However, Walker’s throw from center came into third and hit the second runner in the back as he slid head-first into third, ricocheting out of play and allowing the second run to come home. It was a perfect throw from Walker, but went in the scorebook as an error in an instance of bad luck for the Whitecaps and their centerfielder.
Hyannis tacked on their seventh run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Brendan Donovan, giving the Harbor Hawks a 7-2 edge in the fifth.
The Whitecaps got their first two runs on a Julian Infante (Vanderbilt) home run to left. The two-run shot was the first long ball of the season for Infante and was the first of three home runs on the day for Brewster.
“It’s fun when you see those guys being able to contribute in that fashion,” Costes said about Walker and Infante’s home runs. “Steele, ever since he’s gotten back he’s been a big part for us and Julian has always been a big part for us so to see him leave the field it was fun for him. I saw it coming when I was on second base. He was so happy and that’s what it’s all about.”
With a combined sixteen runs crossing the plate in the game, the pitching for either team didn’t find much success.
For Brewster, starting pitcher Pauly Milto (Indiana) would give up six runs (four earned) in just four innings of work.
However, the Brewster relief trio of Jonathan Stiever (Indiana), Joe DeMers (Washington), and Sam Bordner (Louisville) combined to give up only two runs (one earned) and six hits in five innings of work.
Bordner closed the game out for the Whitecaps with two perfect frames and a strikeout.
As for Hyannis, Jordan Martinson (Dallas Baptist) had a solid start, surrendering only two runs in five innings of work and striking out five.
In relief of Martinson, the trio of Davis Vainer (Alabama), Trysten Barlow (Mississippi State), Larrison failed to protect the team’s lead, as the three relievers combined to allow six runs (five earned) in four innings.
High-scoring affairs have been the norm for Hyannis pitchers all season, however, as the Harbor Hawks sport the highest team earned run average in the Cape League at an abysmal 5.65.
WHAT’S NEXT: All but four Whitecaps have a day off on Saturday with the CCBL All-Star Game being played at Spillane Field in Wareham at 6:05 pm. Gasper and Michael Curry (Georgia) are starting for the Eastern Division at first base and designated hitter, respectively. Robert Broom (Mercer) was selected as a member of the East's bullpen. Taylor is also getting in on the festivities as the slugger will participate in the Cape League Home Run Derby prior to the game.