By: Koki Riley
ORLEANS, M.A. – An 18-year-old at the time, Gage Workman (Arizona State) was getting overpowered by Cape League pitching.
Finishing the season with a .163 batting average and a .240 on base percentage, Workman looked lost at the plate, striking out more often than he reached on base for the summer.
Flash forward a year later and Workman is the Co-MVP for the East All-Stars in the 2019 Cape League All-Star game. The Arizona native’s inside the ballpark home run and leadoff double in the ninth inning propelled the East All-Stars to a 6-5 walk off win from Eldredge Park in Orleans.
“I thought he was going to catch it honestly,” Workman said of the home run. “It felt really good coming off the bat.”
For Workman, Sunday night’s offensive explosion showed how far the Sun Devils infielder has come over the last year. Still just 19 years of age, Workman’s four triples leads the entire Cape League.
And for as impressive as Workman was on the night, his two-hit performance was just the tip of the iceberg on the night for Brewster.
Workman, Brett Auerbach (Alabama), T.J. Collett (Kentucky) and Tyler Hardman (Oklahoma) combined to go 5-9 with four runs batted in the All-Star Game. And to cap it all off it was Auerbach’s walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning that concluded an unforgettable night for the Whitecaps.
“Everyone was deserving. Everyone had a great time,” Auerbach said. “It was really fun.”
Sharing the East All-Star MVP award with Workman, Auerbach’s perfect 3-3 night at the plate showed off the catcher’s consistent approach in the batter’s box.
In fact, the Brewster catcher hasn’t gone hitless in a game since July 4th.
“It just goes back to the way we play regular season games,” Auerbach said. “We’re just loose and we just have a bunch of fun.”
Throughout the night Brewster’s All-Star representatives had fun, embraced the moment and relished at the opportunity of playing in front of over 5,000 fans at Eldredge Park.
The starting pitcher for the East All-Stars, Brewster’s Mason Black (Lehigh) got excited enough to the point where he literally couldn’t wait to get on the mound.
“I jumped out (of the bullpen) like five or six minutes early,” Black said. “I was just ready to get out there and onto the mound.”
Brewster left hander Matt Mikulski (Fordham) found himself nervous before his appearance in the seventh. But nevertheless, found a rhythm on the mound in a rare relief appearance.
“I had a lot of fun,” Mikulski said. “I (struck out) two guys in one inning. It felt good to have Gage (Workman) and Tyler (Hardman) behind me.”
But prior to Auerbach’s heroics, Mikulski’s and Black’s scoreless frames and the start of the ballgame was the event that many Whitecaps fans were looking forward to the most, the Home Run Derby.
Representing the Whitecaps in the Derby was Hardman and Collett. The top sluggers on a Whitecaps team that is second on the Cape in long bombs, both Hardman and Collett reached the second and final round of the derby with relative ease.
After Harwich’s Niko Kavadas (Notre Dame) finished his final round of the Derby a home run shy of Collett’s final round total of six, it was a guarantee that one of Brewster’s two participants in the contest would finish on top.
But in the end, it was Hardman in an 11 home run championship winning performance that captured the Home Run Derby crown.
“It was really weird constantly trying to hit a home run,” Hardman said. “It was a lot of fun especially with my grandparents in town.”
“I just really enjoy doing this no matter if I come in last place or first place,” Collett said. “It was just fun watching these guys hit nukes.”
Despite the fact that there were no points on the line in Orleans on Sunday night, Brewster’s incredible performance on the Cape League’s grandest stage was the highlight of what has so far been, at times, a frustrating summer for the Whitecaps.
Three points back of Harwich for the final playoff spot in the East, Sunday night was the confidence boost this Brewster team needed before the final week and a half of the Cape League season.
“We’ll be fine,” Workman said. “We’ll be in the playoffs.”