By: Aodhán Doyle
HARWICH, MA- Late baseball Hall of Famer Duke Snider once said, “Swing hard in case they throw the ball where you’re swinging.”
On Saturday night at Whitehouse Field, Brewster Whitecaps designated hitter Michael Curry (Georgia) heeded the late Dodgers legend’s advice and crushed a two-run home run as part of an 8-3 Brewster (11-10-1) victory over the Harwich Mariners (7-14-1), their third in a row.
“I was just trying to swing as hard as I can just in case I hit it,” said Curry. “I swung hard and I hit it and it was sick.”
Curry, who finished the day 1-4 with two runs driven in, may have gotten the Whitecaps out to an early 2-0 lead, but it was Brewster’s southpaw starter, and Curry’s Bulldog teammate, Ryan Avidano (Georgia) who guided Brewster to their third straight win over the Mariners.
Avidano (1-0), who was making his second start of the season, tossed six innings of scoreless ball, while allowing just five hits and striking out three.
“Just locating fastballs and working ahead early,” Avidano explained. “Getting a lot of groundballs.”
The lefty picked up the win and lowered his season ERA to an outstanding 1.93.
“Ryan Avidano gave us a great start,” said Whitecaps coach Jamie Shevchik. “He went six innings, the first time we’ve had a guy go six innings in a while. So, even with two days off, we didn’t have to use much of our bullpen."
The lefty’s performance also earned heavy praise from his batterymate, Mickey Gasper (Bryant).
“I saw a lot of good stuff. I saw a good fastball that was moving and a changeup that switched speeds,” Gasper said. “He didn’t even really have one of his better pitches, his breaking ball, today, but he threw it when he needed to and he got outs in some big situations."
"It was a really nice job and as long as he’s throwing strikes, like he was today, he’s going to be a really tough guy to hit in this league.”
Gasper also aided his starter with his bat, as the catcher launched his fourth home run of the season in the top of the third inning to extend Brewster’s lead to three.
“My previous at-bat I just got a little out in front of the changeup and they made a nice play on me,” said Gasper about his approach. “I took another fastball my second at-bat to start so I was ready for something off-speed and he threw me that changeup and I was just on-time and put a good swing on it.”
Gasper’s home run tied outfielder Chandler Taylor (Alabama) for the team lead.
“Certainly,” said Gasper when asked if there’s a race between he and Taylor for the lead. “He’s a good friend and it’s good to have a little friendly competition amongst the boys.”
While Brewster’s offense was entirely the long ball early on, their next five runs came via superb plate discipline and hard-hit line drives.
The Whitecaps finished the game with an incredible 12 walks, including two with the bases loaded that drove in runs.
“It’s awesome. The last three games, we were able to do some things and play more of our style of baseball,” said Shevchik about his team’s approach. “We were able to run, get guys into position, steal bases, put guys in motion for hit-and-runs. We’ve had a handful of walks every game, if we’re going to be able to do that and get guys on base, we’re going to be pretty good.”
Gasper, who finished with two walks on his day, also praised the team’s dedication to a selective approach at the plate.
“We’re trying to stay in our approach and our strengths, we’re not trying to do too much. It just shows that we’re coming together and we’re just trying to win ballgames right now,” Gasper said. “It’s not really about who has more hits, more RBI, the longest home run, it’s just about putting quality at-bats together for the team and taking your hits when they’re there, but also taking your walks when they’re there."
Despite his early reputation as a bit of a free swinger, Brewster outfielder Marty Costes (Maryland) finished his day 1-1 with three walks and two runs driven in.
“His approach needs to change a little bit, but for him to walk three times today is a great start because he’s been getting himself out by swinging out of the strike zone,” Shevchik said. “For him to walk three times today, I think that’s where he needs to be as a hitter. The hits are going to come, now he just needs to keep getting himself into good hitters' counts because when he struggled the pitchers got the best of him by backing him into a corner”
The Mariners pitching staff struggled with their command all game. Starter Matt Frisbee (UNC-Greensboro) (0-1) lasted just 3.2 innings, while giving up five earned runs. Then, Cullen Dana (Seton Hall) and Zach Reid (West Virginia) walked nine in just 3.2 innings. Reid was responsible for four of those walks and only recorded one out.
The Whitecaps bullpen, which has been stellar for much of the season, was not as sharp as many fans had gotten used to. Joe DeMers (Washington) and Matt Beck (LSU) combined for three innings, while giving up three earned runs.
Beck was making his first appearance for the Whitecaps this season, pitching the ninth inning to close the game out.
“He’s a guy that’s going to be able to come in and throw strikes,” Shevchik said. “He’s not going to overpower a lot of guys but he’s got a three-pitch mix with a fastball, breaking ball, and changeup. He’s going to be a little bit of a different pace for guys, but the key is using him in the right situations and not putting too much pressure on him.”
After struggling with errors over the first half of the season, Saturday marked the first game since June 30th in which Brewster put a zero in the error column on the scoreboard.
“We didn’t commit a single error today,” said Shevchik, smiling. “So if this is what the trend is going to be like, we can be a very, very, good ball club. It all depends if we can keep up the pace.”
WHAT’S NEXT: The Whitecaps return home to Stony Brook Field on Sunday to take on the Falmouth Commodores. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.