By: Aodhán Doyle
BREWSTER, MA- Throughout their season, the list of words used to describe the 2017 Brewster Whitecaps seemed as long as the season itself.
Some of the most common included “tough,” “resilient,” “gritty,” “underdogs,” or “flawed.”
In the end, however, the title that will forever be synonymous with coach Jamie Shevchik’s team is the one every player, coach, and competitor strives for: “champions.”
It was that very grit, toughness, and resilience that propelled Brewster to the top, as for the third consecutive series, the Whitecaps won a do-or-die game three, this time 2-0 over the Bourne Braves at Stony Brook Field.
The Cape League championship is Brewster’s first since 2000 and just their second total.
“It was unbelievable,” said Shevchik. “I can’t explain the feeling. I mean, the whole atmosphere was angelic. To see all these people here go crazy after we won this was, by far, the best experience that I’ve had. I’ve gotten to championship games in college, I’ve gotten to championship games in summer ball, but I had never won one.”
“Everyone on our team, this game, knew we were going to win from the beginning,” said Whitecaps starter Will Tribucher (Michigan). “There wasn’t any doubt in anyone’s mind, we were going to find a way, whether it be scoring a lot of runs, or good defense.”
Entering the playoffs, Brewster was an afterthought in the Eastern Division.
After all, the other three playoff teams were the Orleans Firebirds, who had the best record in the entire league, the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, who had won the last three league championships, and the Chatham Anglers, one of the oldest franchises in the league and the consistent league leaders in attendance.
In fact, in a Twitter poll conducted on August 6th, the Cape League asked fans who was going to advance in the playoffs from the Eastern Division.
Out of the four teams, Brewster finished fourth, with just 14-percent of the vote.
But championships aren’t won through polls, or through previous years’ successes, or through regular season statistics.
They’re won on the field, and when it mattered most, nobody was better than Brewster.
Every time it looked like the Whitecaps were out of it, they overcame.
Every time they had their backs against the wall, they evaded defeat and surged to victory.
Every time a big play needed to be made, they made it.
But it just couldn’t come easily, or without a do-or-die situation. Not with this team.
Against Y-D in the first round, Brewster blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning and lost 8-5, a crushing loss that forced them to win two consecutive games, including a game three on the road, in order to advance. They did.
Against top-seeded Orleans in the second round, the Whitecaps lost game one, putting themselves in a 1-0 hole and again needing to win two back-to-back elimination games. Behind the unlikely hero in Conor McNamara (Marist), who was handed the ball in game three for his first Cape League start after appearing in just three regular season games, the Whitecaps did it again.
Facing Bourne in the finals, it was a new situation for Brewster. For once, they weren’t considered the underdogs, having home-field advantage for the first time.
After winning game one on a walk-off hit-by-pitch, Brewster let a 7-3 fifth inning lead slip through their fingers in game two, forcing their third consecutive game three.
The atmosphere at Stony Brook Field was electric, with a ballpark-record 4,591 fans watching the game in person and hundreds more tuning in online.
Fans brought personalized signs, made make-shift drums out of buckets and spoons, developed custom chants for specific players, and in turn, were rewarded with euphoria.
“For me, this was big, and for the people of Brewster, it’s even bigger,” Shevchik said.
“I think Brewster, as a town, deserved this,” said Tribucher.
Exactly one week after his stellar outing in game number two of the first round and three days after he shut the door on the Firebirds with two perfect innings to end game three, the Whitecaps handed the ball to Tribucher on the mound.
The lefty, who entered the playoffs with a 4.10 regular season earned run average, delivered when Brewster needed him most.
Before the game, Shevchik said Tribucher looked locked in and very soon, it was clear Shevchik wasn’t wrong.
Tribucher spun six and two-thirds shutout innings and struck out five, while allowing just five hits and picking up the win.
“He was locked in,” said Troy Miller (Michigan) about Tribucher. “It’s funny that our head coach said that, because I told everyone in the bullpen before the game that he was locked in and you could tell from the first pitch.”
In 16.1 postseason innings, Tribucher went 2-0 with a 0.55 earned run average and picked up wins in two do-or-die games and saved another.
After starting the season on a temporary contract, Tribucher turned into the Whitecaps’ best pitcher in the postseason.
Marty Costes (Maryland) gave the Whitecaps a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third inning on a sacrifice fly to center field.
A.J. Graffanino (Washington) led off the inning with an infield single and was moved to third on a Mickey Gasper (Bryant) single, before Costes brought him home.
While Costes had the game-winning RBI for Brewster, it was his glove that secured the victory.
After Tribucher was removed from the game with a runner at first and two outs in the seventh, Joe DeMers (Washington) entered and allowed a walk and a single to load the bases.
With the Whitecaps leading 2-0 at the time, the tying run was in scoring position for Bourne and Lyle Lin (Arizona State), one of Bourne’s best hitters, stepped into the box.
Lin worked a full count and then crushed a high fastball into the left-center field gap.
Then, Costes made the play of the season for Brewster.
Diving to his left at full speed, Costes fully extended, made the catch, and landed on the warning track, robbing Lin of a likely bases-clearing double, that would have given Bourne a 3-2 lead.
Instead, Brewster got out of the jam and moved to just six outs away from a title.
Costes came through in big spot after big spot for the Whitecaps this season, delivering go-ahead home runs and clutch hits seemingly every time he stepped into the box.
None were as big as the Terrapin’s catch in the seventh inning, however, as it quite literally saved Brewster’s season.
After the game, some fans called it “the greatest catch they’ve ever seen.”
Whitecaps bench coach Tommy Weber said that, considering the circumstances, it was the best catch he’d ever seen as well.
It wasn’t the only stellar defensive play by the Whitecaps, though.
Chandler Taylor (Alabama), with runners on first and second, made a sliding grab in right field, taking away a likely RBI-single from Kevin Radziewicz (Fairfield) and preserving Brewster’s 1-0 lead.
In the top of the ninth, after a lead-off single from Zac Susi (UConn), Graffanino ranged deep towards second base to get a ball that seemed destined for center field off the bat of Tyler Fitzgerald (Louisville). The Husky flipped the ball backwards to Nick Dunn (Maryland), who made the relay throw on to first to complete the double play.
All season long, Brewster’s defense was an issue. They finished the regular season with the third-worst fielding percentage in the league, a category they found themselves in the cellar in for most of the season.
But like so much about the team, when the stakes were highest, their defense was flawless.
“We had some great plays today,” Tribucher said. “Marty Costes made a great play that saved the game. They had my back. I never have a doubt with any of the guys behind me. I’m always throwing to try and make them get outs, and they came up and made some big time plays today.”
Hunter Bishop (Arizona State) continued his hot postseason with an opposite-field home run in the bottom of the sixth.
It was Bishop’s third home run of the postseason, all to opposite-field and all in the last seven days.
“I think it’s just consistent at-bats,” Bishop said when asked about his power surge. “I was struggling early in the season, but then I kind of found my stroke, especially late in the playoffs. Shev told me it’s going to take me a little bit, I might struggle in the regular season, but he said his plan for me was to turn it on in the playoffs and pretty much do what I did. So, I’m just glad to help the team in whatever way I could.”
Miller, who joined the Whitecaps on July 27th when the team’s pitching depth was running thin and Tribucher recommended Miller to Shevchik, closed the game out with a six-out save.
“It’s good to see him do well,” said Tribucher about his fellow Wolverine. “He came out and joined us late in the season and he’s been lights out this whole time. We trusted him and we knew we were going to finish the game with him.”
“All the infielders and outfielders had made plays all game,” Miller said. “They were behind me the whole time and they told me just to get outs, so that’s what I tried to do.”
Miller finished his postseason with a perfect 0.00 earned run average in three appearances.
“I don’t know if we feel anything yet, it’s kind of unreal,” Miller said about the win. “All the guys were committed all summer and it was awesome that they invited me out here at the end. It was a great celebration and I’m sure we’ll enjoy it tonight too.”
Darius Hill (West Virginia) also picked up two hits for the Whitecaps, raising his batting average in the postseason to a team-best .316.
In most games and against most teams, the performance Bourne got from its pitchers is enough for a win.
Sunday wasn’t most games, however, and the 2017 Whitecaps weren’t most teams.
Starter Daniel Bies (Gonzaga) tossed four innings of one-run, four-hit ball, before turning it over to Blake Whitney (South Carolina Upstate).
Whitney managed to be even better, striking out six and allowing just one run on three hits in four innings.
But in the end, all Brewster needed was just one run.
“It was pretty early, honestly,” said Bishop about when he realized the team could contend for a title. “Just seeing how much talent the whole entire team had in the lineup, one through nine, and then, obviously, our pitchers, it’s a special team. I don’t know if I’ll ever play on a team as good as this, but they’re special guys and it’s friendships for life.”
“I think when we got into the Y-D series and we tied it up and we had nothing to lose after that, it clicked a little bit that the guys here really wanted to win,” Shevchik said. “It wasn’t about showcasing their talent anymore, nobody was going home at that point, we were left with the guys who really wanted to win a championship and that’s when it clicked.”
Bishop and Dunn were named Co-Playoff MVPs by the league.
“I’m super fortunate to have my name called, but I think this guy deserves it the whole year,” Bishop said, looking at Dunn. “He put on a show the entire Cape season and he helped me a lot throughout the whole entire thing. So, it’s a blessing and I’m grateful for everything I got.”
Bishop had three home runs and five runs driven in in the postseason, on top of outstanding defense in center field, while Dunn finished the playoffs with a .306 average, one home run, and seven runs driven in.
Dunn, along with Graffanino, Julian Infante (Vanderbilt), and Zack Gahagan (UNC) were part of the 2016 Whitecaps team that missed the playoffs after losing their last five games.
For them, and for coach Shevchik, this title run was even sweeter.
“It’s pretty awesome,” Dunn said. “To have a great group of guys like this, to be with them all summer, come this far, and win, it’s pretty special.”
“I’m happy for them,” Shevchik said. “Especially when we didn’t even make the playoffs last year. To come out here and win a championship, I’m happy for every single one of these guys. This is a group that I would love to be around for a long, long, time. The bad thing about summer baseball is we get to rent them for two-and-a-half months. So, hopefully we can get some guys to come back here next year and hopefully we can have a great year again. It’s going to be hard to top this one. If somebody recorded this season, it’d be an award-winning movie, that’s for damn sure.”
The Whitecaps’ run to the title was truly miraculous.
In the first two rounds, their two opponents combined for 56 regular season wins, and by beating them, Brewster set a new record in highest number of wins by teams beaten in a single postseason.
Every winning pitcher for the Whitecaps in the postseason either started the season as a temporary player or not on the roster.
Out of the 15 pitchers on the postseason roster, only five arrived in Brewster on the roster and with a permanent contract.
“I think it was just our guys starting to buy-in to winning, playing team baseball, and trying to win a championship,” Shevchik said. “We had some guys that really stepped up. Guys like Chandler Taylor (who started the season on a temporary contract), who became another vocal leader, and Hunter Bishop, everybody. Everybody from the pitching staff to the guys who were around the bench, they were engaged throughout the entire series and you saw it. You’re going to be able to go back and look at every video on Twitter and Facebook, there’s not going to be one kid that’s down.”
Also, because all three rounds went to three games for the Whitecaps, the team set a Cape League record by playing a total of 53 games (44 regular season, nine playoffs) in a single season.
The 2017 Whitecaps weren’t the flashiest team, or the most talented team, or the most consistent team, but when the moment called, Brewster answered.
WHAT’S NEXT: Celebration.
By: Aodhán Doyle
BOURNE, MA- As the old adage goes, “when it rains, it pours.”
While the rain at Doran Park on Saturday was only a light drizzle, the bottom of the fifth inning was a deluge.
In game two of the Cape Cod League Championship Series, the Brewster Whitecaps entered the bottom of the fifth inning leading 7-3 over the Bourne Braves.
Then, everything began to fall apart for coach Jamie Shevchik’s squad, allowing eight runs in the frame and eventually falling to Bourne 13-7, evening the series at one win apiece and setting up a decisive game three at Stony Brook Field in Brewster on Sunday.
“It’s tough, but we’re in the championship for a reason,” said Brewster second baseman Nick Dunn (Maryland). “There are three games, so we’ve just got to come back tomorrow and play like we do.”
“We just couldn’t stop the bleeding with a handful of guys,” Shevchik said. “You take that away and it’s a completely different ballgame. The guys have one more game. They’re going to have to beat some of the best pitching we have left, so if they’re going to do it, we’re going to make them work really hard.”
The first play of the bottom of the fifth turned out to be a microcosm of the entire inning.
While it was hit hard, a fly ball to left-center off the bat of Jared Triolo (Houston) was certainly catchable, but Brewster left fielder Marty Costes (Maryland) slipped on the wet grass trying to run it down, allowing Triolo to advance to third on the triple.
Then, Jameson Hannah (Dallas Baptist) beat out a groundball to shortstop, going as an RBI-infield single and making it 7-4.
After a strikeout and a walk, putting runners on first and second, Shevchik made the call to the bullpen, taking out starter Pauly Milto (Indiana) and replacing him with Ryan Cyr (Kansas).
That’s when the inning really started to get away from Brewster, as Cyr allowed three consecutive singles and then a double which gave Bourne an 8-7 lead.
The last batter Cyr faced, Lyle Lin (Arizona State), broke his bat on a soft chopper to third base and Kyle Datres (UNC) fielded it cleanly, but his throw home to try and get the runner breaking from third wasn’t in time, allowing Lin to reach and the ninth Bourne run to score.
Zach Schneider (Florida Atlantic) entered for Brewster, but fared no better.
The first two batters he faced laced RBI-singled, giving Bourne the 11-7 lead, before Kevin Radziewicz (Fairfield) grounded into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
While the Whitecaps have made a habit of coming back from deficits this season, the eight-run inning proved to be insurmountable.
Bourne added their final two runs on a Brewster error, their only in the ballgame, that could have been an inning-ending double play, but the throw from Datres to second sailed over A.J. Graffanino’s (Washington) and into right field.
Before the eight-run inning, Brewster’s offense scored early and often.
The Whitecaps put up four runs in the top of the second with two coming on a Nick Dunn (Maryland) single and the other two coming home on a Mickey Gasper (Bryant) double.
Bourne brought it to a one-run game in the bottom of the third when Triolo drove in a run with a double and Hannah followed with a home run, but Brewster answered.
Dunn delivered again in the fourth with an RBI-single and then back-to-back sacrifice flies in the fifth from Chandler Taylor (Alabama) and Zack Gahagan (UNC) made it 7-3 Brewster.
Dunn finished his day 3-3 with three runs driven in and a walk.
“Just being patient and sticking to my approach,” Dunn said. “I waited for pitches I could drive.”
Although starter Eli Kraus (Kent State) lasted just two innings and gave up four runs, the Braves bullpen was able to limit Brewster’s offense, mainly via the strikeout.
Brewster struck out 14 times in total, with five coming from Bryan Hoeing (Louisville), who gave up the last three Whitecaps runs, three from P.J. Poulin (UConn), one from Chad Luensmann (Nebraska), and three from Nick Johnson (Rhode Island).
The Whitecaps pitching box score featured some crooked numbers as well.
Milto’s final line was just four and one-third innings pitched and six earned runs with just three strikeouts.
Cyr allowed five runs on four hits and did not record an out, while Schneider gave up two runs (one earned) in two-thirds of an inning.
Drew Reveno (St. Louis) closed the game out for Brewster, striking out four in three scoreless innings.
The situation, however, is all too familiar for Brewster and completely foreign for Bourne.
The Whitecaps faced a do-or-die game three in each of their first two playoff series, while the Braves swept both of their first two opponents.
“It definitely helps,” Dunn said about having played two game threes already. “We know that we still have a chance to come back tomorrow. We’ve just got to play well.”
“I said this after series number one, Tommy Weber said it too, we’re playing with house money,” said Shevchik. “We want to win this thing, and it’s going to be a great story when we do. I think these guys just have to come tomorrow ready to play and forgot about this right here. I know when I walk out I’m going to forget about this and focus on tomorrow and that’s what they need to do too.”
WHAT’S NEXT: The Cape League champion will be decided in a winner-takes-all game three at Stony Brook Field on Sunday at 3 p.m. The 3 p.m. start time is one hour earlier than normal.
By: Aodhán Doyle
BREWSTER, MA- Every day, young aspiring baseball players dream of coming to bat with two outs, the bases loaded, and a chance to win the game.
On Friday night at Stony Brook Field, Brewster Whitecaps right fielder Chandler Taylor (Alabama) got that opportunity, and won the game, but in a way he never expected.
With the Whitecaps and Bourne Braves tied at four in the tenth inning of game one of the league championship series, Taylor fell behind in the count 1-2 with the winning run just ninety-feet away.
Braves reliever Sean Leland (Illinois) took a deep breath, came set, and dealt a breaking ball.
The curveball broke down and in to Taylor, nailing his right foot, and bringing home Nick Dunn (Maryland) on a walk-off hit-by-pitch.
Taylor lived every player’s childhood dream, winning the game, and both literally and figuratively, took one for the team.
Brewster took a 1-0 series lead with the 5-4 victory over the visiting Braves, the first time the Whitecaps have led 1-0 in any playoff series this season.
“Obviously, we’re a really good hitting team, but as you could see, it was a really tough game, but we found a way to do it,” said Brewster outfielder Hunter Bishop (Arizona State). “So, I just say it’s a tribute to we’re grinders. We just grind out at-bats and Chandler did a great job with two-strikes.”
“I don’t know if I’ve seen that, especially in this magnitude,” said Whitecaps coach Jamie Shevchik. “If I did, it was probably some tenth game of the year, mid-season, where I forgot about it. So, to have a game end like this in a championship series, I’m kind of stuck for words here. As soon as they walked the bases loaded, Coach Weber and I were both just throwing scenarios out there and passed ball was thrown in there, base hit, hit-by-pitch, it was all there. Although, to see a game end with a hit-by-pitch, I’ll take it. Any way we can get it.”
The Whitecaps had a chance to win the game in a regulation nine innings, leading 4-2 going into the final frame, but Bourne battled back to force extra innings.
Whitecaps reliever Sam Bordner (Louisville) entered the game in the top of the ninth inning needing three outs to finish off the Braves.
Bordner started strong, getting the first two-batters out in order.
Then, things began to unravel for the 6’6” right-hander.
A hard-hit single to left off the bat of number-nine hitter and fellow Louisville teammate Tyler Fitzgerald brought Grant Williams (Kennesaw State) to the plate, who worked a five-pitch walk.
After falling behind 2-0, Bordner battled back to a full count and was one-strike away from ending the game, but left a fastball up in the zone and Bourne first-baseman Lyle Lin (Arizona State) lined it into the gap in left-center, scoring two, and tying the game.
Bordner struck out Jared Triolo (Houston) to end the threat, but Brewster couldn’t manage a run in the bottom of the inning, sending the game into extra innings.
The situation was eerily similar to game one of Brewster’s first round series against the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.
In that contest at Red Wilson Field, Brewster held a 5-3 lead entering the ninth inning, but Bordner allowed five runs (one earned) and the Whitecaps lost on a walk-off three-run home run.
This time, however, it was Brewster who got the last laugh.
“They’re resilient,” said Shevchik. “That’s the best word to describe it.”
For much of the game, it was a low-scoring affair between the two number three seeds.
Bourne started the scoring off with a sacrifice fly off the bat of Richie Palacios (Towson), making it 1-0 Braves in the second, but as has been the case all playoffs long, Brewster rebounded.
After a single and a Bourne error put two runners on with one-out, Bishop crushed a home run the opposite way on the first pitch he saw, over the fence in left.
“Well I missed a few fastballs early in my first at-bat and then he threw me a fastball right down the plate in my second one,” Bishop said. “My plan was to sit on a fastball on the outside half and he just threw it right down the plate, so I took it the opposite way.”
It was Bishop’s second opposite-field home run of the postseason, and certainly the most important, as it gave Brewster a 3-1 lead.
“I think it’s just getting comfortable,” said Bishop. “I’ve said that a lot, but I think it’s just finally growing into myself and finally getting a consistent approach. I was changing a lot at the start of the season so now it’s just getting a consistent approach and finally figuring it out.”
“Hunter, we’re just waiting for that kid to click all year long,” said Shevchik. “He’s got some unbelievable tools and more ability than anybody that I’ve seen. When he gets to be good, he’s going to be really good. So, to see him thriving here in the playoffs is important.”
Bourne cut the lead to 3-2, however, in the very next frame, when Triolo looped an RBI-double down the left field line.
After trading zeroes, the Whitecaps tacked on what turned out to be a very important insurance run in the bottom of the seventh on a bizarre sequence of events.
With one out, Darius Hill (West Virginia) singled, and after a strikeout, A.J. Graffanino (Washington) lined a two-out single to right.
Hill tried to move to third on the play and while the throw from Grant Witherspoon (Tulane) beat the Mountaineer to the bag, it got away from Triolo, ricocheting out of play and allowing Hill to score on the second, and final, Bourne error of the game.
Bourne had multiple chances to put more runs on the scoreboard, but a mix of bad luck and great Brewster defense kept the Braves offense silent.
In the top of the fifth, with runners on second and third, Lin chopped a ball towards third and Palacios broke towards home. Brewster third baseman Kyle Datres (UNC) fielded it cleanly, delivered an accurate throw home, and Brewster catcher Mickey Gasper (Bryant) slapped the tag down to prevent the run from scoring.
Then, with two outs and a runner on second, Triolo singled to right field, but Williams tried to score on the hard-hit liner and Taylor fired a laser-beam of a throw right into the mitt of Gasper at home, catching Williams, who represented the tying-run, and ending the inning.
In a break for Brewster, after the game was tied, bad baserunning potentially cost the Braves a run in the top of the tenth.
A single and a walk put runners on first and second with one out for Witherspoon, who lined a single to right. Braves manager and third-base coach Harvey Shapiro, not wanting to test Taylor’s arm again, held Jameson Hannah (Dallas Baptist) at third on a ball that, in most cases, scores a run. Bourne designated-hitter Kevin Radziewicz (Fairfield), not recognizing Hannah was held, rounded second and sprinted towards third. Witherspoon moved to second, trapping Radziewicz between the bags, before he retreated towards second. With both players stepping on second, Radziewicz was allowed to stay on the base and Witherspoon was called out, before Palacios grounded out to end the inning and give Brewster an extremely fortunate break.
The Whitecaps used five pitchers to cover the ten innings, with Troy Miller (Michigan) earning the win.
Tony Locey (Georgia) made his final start of the season, going five innings and allowing two runs on five hits, while striking out one.
In a one-run game, Shevchik showed once again how much confidence he has in Zach Schneider (Florida Atlantic), who turned in an outstanding performance in the clinching game in the series against Y-D.
Schneider held the Braves to just three hits over three innings, while striking out two, before giving way to Bordner in the ninth.
“He’s got some stuff,” Shevchik said with a smile on his face. “We got him out of there early enough today, too. That’s something that’s working in our favor a little bit too, we’re going to be able to bounce him back in. He’s another kid, that if we get a chance to use him again, he’ll be fresh enough to get back in there and throw. The kid is impressive.”
Shane McDonald (Southern New Hampshire) recorded an out in the top of the tenth before Shevchik turned to Miller, who recorded the final two outs.
“Give the bullpen credit, coming in and getting us out of a handful of jams and then our offense worked the bases loaded and, destiny,” Shevchik said.
Bourne, on the other hand, turned to Brian Eichhorn (Georgia Southern) in game one.
The right-hander was solid, going five and one-third innings and allowing three runs (two earned) on just three hits and striking out seven.
Brewster was able to get a run off southpaw Jared Skolnicki (Kent State) in the seventh, though the Bourne lefty held the Whitecaps to just three hits in three and one-third innings.
Kyle Marman (Florida Atlantic) took the loss for the Braves, as he walked Dunn and Gasper to start the tenth inning before Leland entered.
In all, Marman recorded just one out and allowed one hit, two walks, and one run.
Finally, Brewster set a season high in attendance for game one with 3,004 fans making their way to Stony Brook Field, crushing the previous high of 2,137 set in game two of the Eastern Division Championship Series against Orleans.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Whitecaps travel to Doran Park in Bourne on Saturday, trying to close out the series and win their first league championship since 2000. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m.
By: Aodhán Doyle
ORLEANS, MA- At 9:09 p.m. on Thursday, cheers rang out, fists were pumped, hugs were exchanged, and a seventeen-year streak was broken.
For the first time since 2000, the Brewster Whitecaps became Eastern Division champions, securing a berth in the Cape League Championship with a 2-1 victory over the Orleans Firebirds at Eldredge Park.
It was the second consecutive series in which Brewster lost game one before rattling off back-to-back victories while facing elimination. Perhaps even more impressive, both game threes were on the road and both series were against the top two teams in the entire league.
“It’s a resilient bunch,” said Whitecaps left fielder Marty Costes (Maryland). “We’re coached by a resilient coach in Shev. He has that attitude where we’re looking to win every game. He said it after we lost the first one, all we have to do is win two, so I believe in it.”
“In the beginning of the year, half of these guys had no idea what the Brewster Whitecaps were about,” said Whitecaps coach Jamie Shevchik. “To them, it was just another team in the Cape League. As the postseason has gone on, these guys have realized that it’s a lot more important than just playing summer baseball on the Cape. You can look at the crowd here. There’s a lot of people here that are supporting this team and our guys are feeding off that. So, I remember a long time ago when we said, ‘play for something other than yourselves’ and I think they’re doing that right now.”
In the biggest game of their season thus far, the Whitecaps turned to the unlikeliest of heroes.
Conor McNamara (Marist) pitched in the Hamptons League on July 26th, was signed by the Whitecaps on the 27th, and threw just over five regular season innings for Brewster, not once starting a game.
“I never imagined I was going to be out in the Cape,” said McNamara. “It’s just a great experience. Take it and run with it, you know?”
But in a do-or-die game three with a trip to the league’s championship series on the line, McNamara made his first Cape League start and permanently etched his name into the league’s storied history.
“After that, I know I belong here,” said McNamara. “Just that, I belong here.”
McNamara got Lars Nootbaar (Southern California) to fly out to center field, ending the seventh inning, and walked off the mound in Orleans to the embrace of his teammates after allowing just one run on four hits in seven frames.
“I was hitting spots,” McNamara said. “My changeup was working. Just stay out of the middle of the plate and you’ll be fine.”
“Credit to McNamara, who was pitching in the Hamptons League two weeks ago, to come out here and give us seven innings was unbelievable,” Shevchik said.
The last time Brewster beat Orleans in a playoff series before Thursday (1994), not a single player on either of the team’s roster had been born and the two teams’ starting first basemen were former MLB All-Stars Sean Casey (Brewster) and Todd Helton (Orleans).
When McNamara exited, however, the game was still tied at one.
That changed the very next inning.
Orleans’ closer Josh Hiatt (UNC) jogged in from the bullpen in right field with the mission of navigating the top of Brewster’s lineup in a game where one straight fastball or one hanging breaking ball could potentially end the team’s season.
Hiatt, who picked up the save in game one of the series and had allowed just three baserunners in four appearances against the Whitecaps in 2017, retired Nick Dunn (Maryland) and Mickey Gasper (Bryant) for the first two outs of the inning.
Then, Costes dug in, tightened his batting gloves, and like he has time-and-time again throughout the season, delivered a big hit when the Whitecaps needed him most.
The Brewster left fielder lined his second home run of the postseason, a no doubter to left field, breaking the 1-1 tie, and causing a joyous explosion of epic proportions in the Whitecaps dugout.
“I was just trying to get on base,” Costes said. “I knew he was a good pitcher, I’ve always seen how he mows guys up-and-down, but I just kept my confidence, though. I felt like I was on the ball last at-bat. I think that at that point in the game, I just needed to take a deep breath and enjoy the atmosphere. I just got lucky at that point.”
“He’s got his own hashtag,” Shevchik laughed. “Anybody who’s got their own hashtag, #MartyParty, I don’t know if it’s a surprise anymore. The kid’s a player and I think all of our guys are just so loose and so laid back. If you win, you move on, and if you lose, their team was supposed to win, and that was the mentality.”
It sent shockwaves through the crowd at Eldredge Park and in a game where runs were at a premium, was a crushing blow to the number-one seeded Firebirds.
“It wouldn’t happen without all the guys on the team playing so hard,” Costes said about his timely hitting. “I think Kyle Datres with his home run was very clutch and Will coming in in that situation, you know, it was so dramatic out there, each pitch I was holding my breath. This is as good as it gets right now.”
After Costes’ home run gave Brewster the lead, Will Tribucher (Michigan) relieved McNamara, looking to close the door and send the Whitecaps to the final round.
Tribucher did so emphatically with two perfect innings, including striking out the side in the bottom of the ninth.
The Brewster southpaw had a 2-2 count on Orleans number-four hitter Stephen Scott (Vanderbilt), who is known for his power after winning this year’s Cape League Home Run Derby and had a chance to tie the game with one swing, but reared back and blew a fastball right past him for strike three.
“We were debating whether we wanted to put [Tribucher] in the game at all, so for him to come in and shut the door for two innings, you see the crowd here, it’s absolutely amazing,” Shevchik said.
Tribucher earned his first save, while McNamara picked up the victory in the series-clincher.
Orleans got out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first on a run-scoring double play, but once McNamara settled in, the Firebirds were held to just two hits over the next eight innings.
Costes hasn’t been the only Whitecap to have a knack for coming through in the clutch this season.
Kyle Datres (UNC) homered with one out in the top of the fourth inning to tie the game at one, his second home run and sixth run batted in of the postseason. Datres and Costes are tied for the team lead in both categories.
It was the second consecutive game in which Brewster relied on the long ball to produce offensively.
In game two, four of Brewster’s eight runs came on three different home runs and both runs on Thursday were solo home runs.
Despite the loss, Orleans received stellar pitching from the trio of Taylor Sugg (UNC), Jake Wong (Grand Canyon), and Hiatt.
Sugg allowed just one run over five innings, before turning the ball over to Wong, who held Brewster hitless over two frames.
After committing three errors in each of the first two games, Brewster recorded a clean defensive game for the first time this postseason.
In their four victories this postseason, the Whitecaps have had four different pitchers, McNamara, Tribucher, Joe DeMers (Washington), and Ryan Cyr (Kansas), emerge victorious. At the beginning of the season, all of them were either not on the roster, or on a temporary contract.
WHAT’S NEXT: It’s a battle of three-seeds for the Cape Cod League Championship. Brewster now faces the Bourne Braves in a best-of-three series.
“Going into tomorrow, I think it flip flops a little bit, I think we’ve got the upper hand,” Shevchik said. “So, I think we’ve still got to keep the momentum going a little bit and keep the same mindset that we’re never out of a baseball game.”
The Whitecaps have home field advantage, with game one coming up on Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.
By: Aodhán Doyle
BREWSTER, MA- A night after allowing three runs in the first two innings, a deficit that proved insurmountable, it appeared the Brewster Whitecaps were headed down the same path.
Facing elimination in game two of the Eastern Division Championship Series, Brewster fell into an early 2-0 hole against the Orleans Firebirds.
This time, however, the tables turned, Brewster’s offense exploded, scoring eight runs on twelve hits and the Whitecaps forced a decisive game three with an 8-3 victory at Stony Brook Field on Wednesday.
“I think it’s just all the time we spend together,” said Julian Infante (Vanderbilt) about the team’s ability to succeed in the face of adversity. “We have fun together and we don’t want to go home and not hang out with each other.”
After allowing a run in both the top of the first and second innings, Brewster tied the game at two with one swing of the bat.
Infante, who was 0-3 with three strikeouts in the playoffs entering Wednesday’s contest, launched a two-out, two-run home run to left field in the bottom of the second, scoring Darius Hill (West Virginia), who had reached in the previous at-bat with a two-out double.
“It was just like every other at-bat,” Infante said. “Just trust yourself, trust your training, trust your own talent because if you don’t trust yourself, nobody else will.”
The Whitecaps tacked on another run in the third and their fourth in the fourth on two solo home runs to right field, one by Nick Dunn (Maryland) and the other off the bat of Chandler Taylor (Alabama).
“It was awesome,” Whitecaps coach Jamie Shevchik said about seeing Infante and Taylor homer. “If they’re going to get it going right now, now’s the time to do it. It was good to see Julian kind of get off the slide a little bit and the same thing with Chandler. If we’re going to make a run through tomorrow and into the next round, we’re going to need those guys to help us score runs.”
Entering the seventh inning leading 4-3, Brewster put the game out of reach with a three-run frame.
Kyle Datres (UNC) lined an RBI-single to center, scoring Mickey Gasper (Bryant), bringing the score to 5-3.
“We were only going to be as good as guys like Mickey [Gasper] and guys like Nick Dunn,” said Shevchik. “Everybody else contributes, but let those guys lead, and that’s what they’ve been doing. They’ve been leading, for the most part, all year.”
Then, after throwing a wild pitch that scored Hunter Bishop (Arizona State) for ball three, Orleans intentionally walked Hill to get to Infante.
While the Commodore didn’t put a ball over the fence, he did bring home his third run of the game with a bases loaded walk.
“Just staying consistent, nothing really changes,” said Infante about the difference between Wednesday and games he struggled in. “Just staying positive and if you’re not positive about yourself, then nobody is. Nothing really changed.”
Just for good measure, Brewster tacked on their eighth run in the bottom of the eighth when Marty Costes (Maryland) brought home Gasper, who led the inning off with a triple to right-center.
After falling behind 2-0, Brewster’s bullpen took over in the top of the third and was outstanding.
Joe DeMers (Washington) and Ryan Cyr (Kansas) combined for six innings of relief, allowing just three hits and one unearned run, while striking out four.
“The fastball was huge today and I found my slider, so I was throwing that well,” DeMers said. “I was just filling up the zone again, as usual, and working off the fastball today.”
“He came in at the right time and he held those guys,” said Shevchik about DeMers. “If you look at the first two innings yesterday and the first two innings today, we didn’t miss a whole lot of barrels when we were throwing baseballs. For a guy like Joe to come in and give us those three solid innings, it shut down their momentum and it allowed us to breathe a little bit and get the momentum back on our side.”
In a game that could have gotten out of reach if Orleans continued to produce like the first two innings, the bullpen’s performance was vital to a Brewster win.
“We just love playing baseball,” said DeMers. “Nothing better than playoff baseball, so this is where we shine and we’ve been doing well.”
Troy Miller (Michigan) picked up a pair of strikeouts in a scoreless ninth inning to close out the game.
The Brewster pitching staff was able to hold Orleans’ one through four hitters, which consisted of three CCBL all-stars and the CCBL Home Run Derby champion, just 1-16 in the game.
“Just no free bases, really attacking the zone, going after hitters, and make them earn their runs,” DeMers said about the staff’s approach to Orleans’ dangerous lineup.
Orleans got out to the early 2-0 lead courtesy of an Ethan Paul (Vanderbilt) home run to right in the first and a Jeff Houghtby (San Diego) RBI-single in the second.
Brewster starter Bradley Spooner (Saddleback CC) lasted just two innings, allowing two runs on three hits and walking two.
The Firebirds didn’t receive much help from their pitching staff, however.
Joey Murray (Kent State) got the start for Kelly Nicholson’s squad and lasted just three and one-third innings, allowing four runs on seven hits.
Murray was relieved by J.T. Hintzen (Florida Southern), who was better than his predecessor, but still walked two and allowed a run in two and two-thirds.
After Hintzen walked Gasper to start the bottom of the seventh, Nicholson turned to Parker Kelly (Oregon), whom Brewster found their most success against.
The right-hander recorded just one out before being removed and allowed two runs on two hits and two walks.
Chandler Day (Vanderbilt) was the final arm for Orleans, allowing a run of his own in an inning and two-thirds.
If there was a downside to the game for the Whitecaps, it had to be their defense. For the second consecutive game, the Whitecaps committed three errors.
Brewster now looks to match their incredible first round comeback again in the second round. The Whitecaps dropped game one to the Y-D Red Sox before winning games two and three to advance to the East Championship. Now, after winning game two, Brewster finds themselves in the exact same scenario, going on the road to try and win a decisive third game.
“Just the same thing,” said Infante. “Stay consistent, trust each other, have fun, and it’s just another ballpark, just another game, and spend more time with each other.”
“Just keep the same mentality,” Shevchik said. “The pressure, again, is on them. They’re supposed to win, they’re the one seed and we’re the three seed. So, the pressure is on them. If we go out there and just continue to play baseball, do the little things right, put guys in scoring position, the same things we’ve been trying to do all year long, who knows, we might be playing a couple more games here.”
WHAT’S NEXT: The series will be decided on Thursday in a do-or-die game three at Eldredge Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. with the winner facing the Bourne Braves in the Cape League Championship.
By: Aodhán Doyle
ORLEANS, MA- All season long, Brewster Whitecaps coach Jamie Shevchik has preached the importance of striking first and setting the tone early to his team.
On Tuesday night in game one of the Eastern Division Championship Series, Shevchik’s words came to fruition…for the Orleans Firebirds.
Three of the first four Firebird batters in the bottom of the first inning singled and the one that didn’t, Stephen Scott (Vanderbilt), put Orleans on top 1-0 with a sacrifice fly to left.
Orleans tacked on two more runs in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice bunt and a Brewster error, the first of three the Whitecaps committed in the eventual 4-1 loss.
The Firebirds were held in check for the remainder of the game, but the early support was more than enough for a dominating Orleans pitching staff.
The trio of Brett Daniels (UNC), Cody Deason (Arizona), and Josh Hiatt (UNC) held the Whitecaps to just one run on four hits, while striking out 14.
“This is game forty-seven or whatever the heck it is,” said Shevchik. “At this point, they have to will themselves into staying for handful more days. If they do that, the hits are going to come.”
Daniels got the start, despite ten of his 13 regular season appearances coming out of the bullpen, and showed the 3,033 fans in attendance why Firebirds manager Kelly Nicholson had so much confidence in his six-foot tall right-hander.
The Tar Heel spun six innings of three-hit ball, allowing just one run, and striking out eight on a mere 70 pitches.
Deason was just as untouchable, allowing just one hit in two innings and striking out five.
The only blip in the Firebirds box score came in third inning when Whitecaps center fielder Hunter Bishop (Arizona State) homered to left field, cutting the Orleans lead to 3-1.
The Whitecaps’ pitching, on the other hand, was more of a mixed bag.
Jonathan Stiever (Indiana) got the start for Brewster and surrendered seven hits and three runs (two earned) in just two innings.
Shane McDonald (Southern New Hampshire), however, made his Brewster debut and seized his playoffs moment.
After playing in the Hamptons League on Long Island, McDonald signed with Brewster and joined the team before the regular season finale against Harwich.
“It’s been kind of crazy, honestly,” McDonald said about his journey. “I didn’t really expect this to ever happen. I was just playing in the Hamptons League to get innings and I wound up doing pretty well. They gave me the call to come here and I just took the opportunity and I ran with it.”
“I actually had not thrown to Mickey [Gasper] at all until I got in the game, so we were adjusting to each other on the fly, but he did a great job back there. In terms of the team, it’s always a little awkward being the new guy, but all these guys are great guys and I’ve really enjoyed my time here so far.”
The southpaw went six innings for Brewster and allowed just one run on four hits, while striking out five.
“I felt good out there today, I was locating my fastball well,” said McDonald. “I thought I had good run on it and they were pounding a lot of balls into the ground. In the later innings, I started to get a better feel for my breaking ball and that helped me the second time through the order.”
“I give credit to Shane today,” said Shevchik. “The way he threw, if we knew we had that before the game started, the kid would have started today, and that’s the downside of getting kids in here late when you have no idea what they can do…If we knew he was like that, we would have started him today and it’s probably a different game if we do.”
The Whitecaps now face elimination in game two and must win to keep their season alive.
“We’ve just got to take it one game at a time,” McDonald said. “They haven’t done anything yet, they didn’t win the series yet. That’s what coach was just saying. We’ve got to come back out and stick to our game plan, hopefully take tomorrow’s game and push it to three.”
Brewster has been in this situation before, however. In round one of the playoffs, the Whitecaps lost game one on the road to the Red Sox before coming back to win the next two and advance.
“The pressure is on them, not us,” Shevchik said. “If you get up 1-0, you tend to drop your guard and just like we saw with Y-D, when they got to our field, they were a little too loose. You never know what’s going to happen. We’re used to this and if we win tomorrow, anybody wins the next day.”
WHAT’S NEXT: For the second time in four days, the Whitecaps return home to Stony Brook Field down 0-1 and facing elimination. First pitch between Brewster and Orleans is scheduled for 4 p.m.
By: Aodhán Doyle
YARMOUTH, MA- They say history repeats itself, and on Monday evening at Red Wilson Field, baseball fans were getting a sense of déjà vu.
Just two days after witnessing the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox score five runs in the bottom of the ninth, capped off by a Carlos Cortes (South Carolina) three-run home run to beat the Brewster Whitecaps 8-5, the Whitecaps entered the ninth inning of a do-or-die game three leading 7-5.
Then, history started to repeat itself.
Down to their last strike, Y-D strung together a hit-by-pitch and a single to load the bases, before new Whitecaps reliever Ryan Cyr (Kansas) walked in a run. Then, Cyr uncorked a wild pitch, scoring Christian Koss (UC-Irvine) from third and tying the game.
For the second time in three days, Brewster had blown a ninth inning lead in Yarmouth, and for the second time in three days, Cortes stepped into the batters’ box with two outs, two runners on, and a chance to win the game.
Fate is a fickle thing, however, and this time, Cortes traded in the role of the hero for an inning ending groundout to first.
It was the break Brewster needed, and they capitalized.
With the score now 7-7, Red Sox reliever Riley McCauley (Michigan State) retired the first two batters in the top of the tenth and got ahead in the count to Brewster first baseman Zack Gahagan (UNC) 1-2. McCauley left a fastball over the plate, however, and Gahagan ripped it into left-center field for a single.
While two-out singles aren’t typically something to fret over, it set the stage for Brewster shortstop A.J. Graffanino (Washington), who took strike one and then roped a hanging breaking ball into the right-center field gap for an RBI-double, giving the Whitecaps an 8-7 edge.
“Just trying to put my best swing on the best pitch I could get,” said Graffanino about his approach.
“It was awesome. People don’t even realize Zack Gahagan probably had the biggest hit of the game,” said Whitecaps coach Jamie Shevchik. “Two-outs, we had just blew the lead, and he singles and scores from third on A.J.’s hit. He came off the bench. He sat there for seven or eight innings. I think that was one of the pivotal moments, but I think this was an amazing team effort and hopefully we can ride this into the next couple days.”
Cyr set down the Red Sox in order in the bottom of the tenth, getting a routine groundball off the bat of Luke Miller (Indiana) on the turf to Graffanino who threw on to Gahagan for the third out.
Game over. Series over. For the first time since their championship in 2000, the Brewster Whitecaps emerged victorious in a playoff series. For the first time since 2013, the Cape League will have a new king, as Y-D was the three-time defending champion.
“Incredible. Judging by the reaction of everyone that was here, it’s amazing,” said Shevchik. “That’s why we play the game and that’s stuff that we talked about in the beginning of the year—playing for people other than ourselves, the people out here, and today it paid off.”
“It feels good, especially with these guys,” Graffanino said. “These are some of my best friends and the coaches are awesome, the fans are great, and just the whole atmosphere is awesome.”
“It felt good because Y-D is such a good program and they’ve won it the past three years. I knew how bad our coaching staff and the other players wanted to win it.”
The ninth inning was just a continuation of what was already a back-and-forth battle, and entire series, frankly, between the two rivals in the decisive final game.
Miller struck first for Y-D, launching a solo home run to left-center on a first pitch fastball from Brewster starter Pauly Milto (Indiana) in the bottom of the second, but Brewster responded quickly.
After back-to-back walks, Marty Costes (Maryland) tied the game with an RBI-single to right in the top of the third. Then, after working the count full and fouling off two more pitches, Kyle Datres (UNC) lined a two-run double to left-center, scoring Costes and Mickey Gasper (Bryant) and giving the Whitecaps a 3-1 lead.
Y-D did not earn the second best regular season record in the league by going quietly, however.
Four straight baserunners, three singles and a walk, including a pinch-hit, game-tying, two-run single by Nick Quintana (Arizona) chased Milto from the game in the top of the fifth.
Zach Schneider (Florida Atlantic), making his first appearance in the series, showed some rust early, throwing his first two pitches in the dirt for wild pitches and allowing Drew Mendoza (Florida State) to score the go ahead run on the second.
Y-D added an insurance run on a single from Nico Hoerner (Stanford), making it a 5-3 game.
All season long, the Whitecaps had shown a knack for overcoming deficits. Early in the season, Brewster erased a 7-1 Y-D lead to force a tie. In arguably the game of the year for Brewster, Shevchik’s squad turned a 10-2 seventh inning Harwich Mariners lead into an 11-10 victory.
Monday was no different, with Brewster rallying once again in the seventh.
Nick Dunn (Maryland) doubled and eventually came around to score on a wild pitch, making it a one-run game.
His Maryland teammate Costes, however, who delivered time and time again for Brewster in big situations all season long, kept the trend going.
After falling behind 1-2, Costes annihilated a ball to straight-away center field for his first home run of the playoffs and tied the game at five.
Out of the eight Brewster runs on Monday, four came with two strikes and three came with two outs.
Brewster took the lead just one inning later, as Datres took the very first pitch of the top of the eighth and lifted it into the trees over the left-center field fence, putting Brewster back on top 6-5.
The home run came off McCauley, who was named the Cape League Co-Relief Pitcher of the Year and picked up the save in the CCBL All-Star Game. The Red Sox closer allowed four runs in 15 and two-thirds innings during the regular season. In his only postseason outing, the Whitecaps tagged him for three runs in three and one-third.
Brewster added another run in the top of the ninth on a Gasper single, giving the Whitecaps a 7-5 edge before Y-D tied it in the ninth.
Schneider was stellar in relief of Milto, spinning four and two-thirds innings and striking out five.
While the two runs in the ninth were charged to Schneider, the right-hander set a new game high in innings, having only thrown four or more twice at Polk State this year, and kept a deep Red Sox lineup at bay for much of the game.
“It was pretty wild,” Schneider said. “I definitely was having chills while I was throwing, but once I got in a groove, I knew what I was doing.”
“It was what we felt would be the best matchup with Y-D’s hitters,” Shevchik said about the duo of Schneider and Cyr in relief. “There’s a handful of guys we could’ve used, but we felt that Schneider and Cyr at the end were the best fit against the guys that were coming up in that lineup.”
Y-D’s pitching staff was put in a tough spot from the get-go. Tim Brennan (St. Joseph’s) was originally scheduled to start, but a late scratch gave the ball to Karl Kauffman (Michigan).
Kauffman lasted just two-plus innings and gave up three runs while walking four.
After a scoreless inning from Tommy Henry (Michigan), Y-D manager Scott Pickler gave the ball to Brendan Nail (Western Carolina).
Nail, who allowed just three runs in 26 regular season innings, gave up two runs in his only inning of work in game one on Saturday and allowed two more in three and two-thirds in game three.
The duo of Nail and McCauley, which baffled opposing hitters all season long, combined to allow five runs in seven innings in the most important game of the season.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Whitecaps move on to face the Orleans Firebirds, who defeated the Chatham Anglers 3-1 in their game three on Monday, in the Eastern Division Finals.
“Just keep the same grinding mentality,” said Shevchik about his team’s second round approach. “We’re never out of it, it doesn’t matter if we lose game one. I said that when we lost game one right here. That’s why it’s a best-of-three series, you still have to come back and beat us twice. For these guys to come back and win the next two, it doesn’t matter who we play.”
Game one is scheduled for Tuesday at 7 p.m at Eldredge Park. Orleans won the season series 4-2.
By: Aodhán Doyle
BREWSTER, MA- On Sunday evening at Stony Brook Field, the Brewster Whitecaps had two options: win or go home.
Behind a stellar start from Will Tribucher (Michigan), Brewster chose the former, defeating the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox 6-1 to even the best-of-three first round playoff series at one apiece.
After losing game one in one of the most heart-wrenching fashions possible, allowing five runs in the bottom of the ninth to lose 8-5, Brewster bounced back and forced a decisive game three.
“I said don’t let us win today. They let us stick around,” said Brewster catcher Mickey Gasper (Bryant). “Tomorrow is a new day, we’re going to be ready to go, and I’m excited for the challenge. Another do-or-die game.”
“I give our guys a lot of credit because they could have folded it up, especially after that loss,” Whitecaps coach Jamie Shevchik said. “Now it’s one game. It’s one game, survivor advances, and we go from there. Anybody can win tomorrow. We have nothing to lose and they have everything to lose. The pressure’s definitely on them, not us.”
Tribucher looked locked in from the start, not allowing a hit until the top of the fourth inning when Alfonso Rivas (Arizona) looped a double into shallow left field to tie the game at one.
“Lately he’s been able to execute everything,” said Gasper. “Fastball, curveball, changeup, all for strikes. His fastball has a lot of movement, so he’s a really dynamic pitcher and he’s just been able to command, locate, and get ahead of hitters.”
It was the only time Y-D crossed home, as Tribucher retired the next batter and held the Red Sox scoreless until he was removed with two outs in the top of the eighth inning.
Tribucher, who started the season on a temporary contract, finished his outing in the biggest game of the Whitecaps’ season with seven and two-thirds innings pitched, just one run and four hits allowed, and six strikeouts.
“We took it hard yesterday, but our team as a whole today came back pretty well,” said Tribucher. “The defense made some really good plays behind us, offensively we did really well scoring some runs and I was lucky to keep us there.”
“He threw exactly like he did the last time he faced these guys,” said Shevchik. “He spotted up his fastball, changed speeds, and had them off balance. It was a great outing and especially for someone to come in here and do that when we really needed it.”
The southpaw finished the regular season just 1-2 with a 4.10 earned run average, but the gem wasn’t entirely surprising. In three appearances against the Red Sox, Tribucher tossed ten and one-third innings, giving up just eight hits, striking out 13, and pitching to a 2.61 earned run average.
“I think I’ve been working really well with Mickey recently, today and the last time I pitched against them,” Tribucher said about his success against Y-D. “Me and him have some pretty good chemistry.”
Exactly one week prior, Tribucher shut down the Red Sox at Red Wilson Field. The lefty took the win after going six innings and allowing just one run on three hits while striking out seven.
“A ton. Me, Will, and [pitching coach Austin] Straub were talking all week,” Gasper said about how much the most recent outing helped them prepare. “We knew we were going to be ready for this game and we knew how to attack these guys. We stuck to the game plan and Will was able to execute.”
It was the top of the Brewster order that provided the support for Tribucher.
Nick Dunn (Maryland), Kyle Datres (UNC), and Gasper combined to go 3-9 with a run scored, three walks, and four runs driven in.
“It’s big,” said Shevchik about getting production from the top of the order. “The lineup has changed every single day, so, I’ll be honest with you, most of it is how we feel that day, gut feeling. I look at the stats over and over every day, I try and see what the matchups are against righties and lefties, sometimes we even see how they take batting practice. It’s going to be the same thing tomorrow. Tomorrow we’re going to do our research and see who we’re facing and see which one of our guys is going to stack up best.”
Gasper put Brewster on the board first with an RBI-single in the bottom of the third, before Rivas’ double tied the game.
“Coach Shev always talks about setting the momentum early,” said Gasper. “The first couple innings set the tone for the rest of the game. Will pitched great, nearly all eight innings. He started out hot and we were able to scratch one across first.”
“It was important because you get to breathe a little bit,” said Shevchik. “It’s hard when you’re down a handful of runs and you’ve got to fight your way back. To get that run and to get some breathing room, it takes a lot of pressure off everyone.”
The Whitecaps really took charge in the fifth, scoring three runs on a Dunn single, a Datres sacrifice fly, and A.J. Graffanino (Washington) coming home on a wild pitch.
Brewster tacked on two more insurance runs in the eighth on a Graffanino bases loaded walk and a Dunn sacrifice fly to left, giving the Whitecaps a 6-1 edge.
While he did not have his best stuff, Red Sox starter John Rooney (Hofstra) managed to work through five and two-thirds innings, while allowing four runs on five hits and striking out six.
Y-D manager Scott Pickler removed Rooney with two outs in the sixth in favor of Brent Teller (Sacred Heart), who retired Julian Infante (Vanderbilt) to end the frame.
However, Teller walked two batters in the seventh and the first two batters in the eighth, before Pickler went to his bullpen again, signaling for Tanner Graham (UAB).
Graham and Karl Blum (Rutgers) combined to work through the rest of the eighth inning, striking out one and walking two.
Joe DeMers (Washington) recorded the final four outs for the Whitecaps, not allowing a baserunner.
WHAT’S NEXT: Game three between the Whitecaps and Red Sox is Monday at 4 p.m. at Red Wilson Field. The winner moves on to the second round of the playoffs, while the loser is eliminated.
By: Koki Riley
YARMOUTH, MA- With one swing of the bat, the Brewster Whitecaps had their collective hearts ripped out of their chests.
Entering the ninth inning of game one of the best-of-three Eastern Division Semifinals leading 5-3, the Whitecaps let the lead slip away, with a walk-off three-run home run from Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox outfielder Carlos Cortes (South Carolina) serving as the final nail in Brewster’s proverbial coffin.
Despite being down to their final strike twice, Y-D scored five runs in the final frame to win 8-5 and take a 1-0 series lead.
“We played the right game today,” said Whitecaps coach Jamie Shevchik. “We made a mistake here-or-there, but we played the right game. The last inning beat us. When you play eight good innings and get beat in the ninth, that’s baseball.”
“We played a really good game and [the outcome] sucks, but we’re going to stick with it and try and get it tomorrow,” said Whitecaps catcher Mickey Gasper (Bryant). “If they let us stick around, I’ve got a lot of faith in us. They have to put us away tomorrow or we’re going to come back and take game three. Tomorrow’s a big day for us.”
Carter Pharis (UAB) got the inning started with a single to right, and after Whitecaps reliever Sam Bordner (Louisville) struck out the next hitter, but Y-D responded with another single, putting runners on the corners.
While at the time it was unclear, the next play served as a microcosm of the inning for Shevchik’s squad. Y-D pinch-hitter Jake Slaughter (LSU) chopped one towards third base, a potential game-ending double play, but the ball scooted under the glove of Brewster’s Kyle Datres (UNC), scoring Pharis and placing runners on first and second.
The very next play, however, Datres made a backhanded diving stab at a ball off the bat of Nico Hoerner (Stanford), stepped on third for the force out, before making a relay throw to first that was not in time.
Then, with two outs, two strikes, and runners on first and second, Kyle Isbel (UNLV) lined an RBI-single in between first and second to tie the game at five.
Cortes followed and two pitches later, the game was over.
“I know it’s a game that we should have won and it sucks the way we lost it, but one game doesn’t decide the series, that’s why it’s best-of-three,” said Shevchik. “We can get all mopey tomorrow if we get beat, but we plan on coming back here on Monday”
Brewster built its initial lead behind the man who, over the course of the season, has arguably been the team’s most consistent and productive offensive presence.
Gasper doubled home Chandler Taylor (Alabama) in the top of the seventh to take a 4-3 lead before Marty Costes (Maryland) tacked on another run on an RBI-single that fell just out of the reach of a diving Isbel.
The Brewster catcher also worked a bases loaded walk as part of a three-run Brewster top of the fifth inning, tying the game at two. Gasper finished his day 2-4 with two runs driven in, a run scored, a walk, and a stolen base.
“I was just getting some good pitches to hit,” Gasper said. “I had a pretty good idea of how they were attacking us as hitters, so I was just trying to stay locked in.”
It was Y-D that drew first blood in the fourth inning, with a two-run Pharis single giving the Red Sox a 2-0 lead after three innings of zeroes for each team.
Brewster responded, however, with Gasper’s walk being sandwiched in between an RBI-single from Nick Dunn (Maryland) and a Costes sacrifice fly, giving the Whitecaps a 3-2 lead.
The only other run in the game came in the bottom of the fifth inning, when Hoerner doubled to center field, scoring Darin Trainor (Lewis-Clark State) and tying the game at three.
While when Cortes crossed home plate in the ninth there had been a combined 13 runs and 19 hits, the game initially started as a pitching duel.
Whitecaps starter Tony Locey (Georgia) and Y-D hurler Andrew Quezada (Cal State Fullerton) traded zeroes for three innings, and each turned in a quality start.
On 97 pitches, Locey battled through seven innings, allowing three runs on four hits, while striking out two and walking three.
Quezada tossed five innings of three-run ball on seven hits, while striking out six.
The Whitecaps managed to get to Brendan Nail (Western Carolina) for two runs in his only inning of work, before Karl Kauffmann (Michigan) came on in relief and held the Whitecaps to just one hit over the final three innings.
Bordner took the loss and surrendered six hits in an inning and two-thirds, but just one of the five runs he allowed was earned.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Whitecaps will try and stave off elimination at home on Sunday against the Red Sox. First pitch from Stony Brook Field is scheduled for 4 p.m.
By: Aodhán Doyle
BREWSTER, MA- In most games, an eighth inning two-run home run to extend a lead to five runs wouldn’t have much of an impact.
Thursday’s contest between the Brewster Whitecaps and Harwich Mariners at Stony Brook Field wasn’t like most games, however.
With two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, Brewster (21-21-2) designated hitter Michael Curry (Georgia) deposited a two-run home run into the trees in left field, giving the Whitecaps an 11-6 lead.
“I was 0-3 going into that at-bat and I just told myself to be loose,” said Curry. “I felt like I barely swung, really, and I just caught some barrel and gave it a poke.”
What was thought by many to just be icing on the cake, turned out to be so much more.
Harwich (15-28-1) came charging back in the top of the ninth, scoring four runs and capitalizing on a pair of Brewster errors.
The errors allowed two Mariners to reach base, setting the stage for back-to-back home runs from Josh Smith (LSU), his second of the game, and Cobie Vance (Alabama) to cut the Brewster lead to just one.
Drew Reveno (St. Louis) got Jordan Verdon (San Diego State) to fly out to left field, ending the game and making Curry’s home run the game winner.
The battle of division rivals featured plenty of offense, with Harwich recording 13 hits and Brewster 11.
“I think we’re just putting quality at-bats together at the right time and we’re being a cohesive unit,” said Brewster catcher Mickey Gasper (Bryant). “We’re just trying to get good pitches and we’re going to take our walks, but we’re going to get our hits when they’re there and we’re just trying to situationally execute.”
After falling behind 3-0, Brewster took a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the second.
A.J. Graffanino (Washington) put the Whitecaps on the board with an RBI-single and then Chandler Taylor (Alabama), after falling behind 0-2 in the count, battled back to draw a bases loaded walk, cutting the Harwich lead to 3-2.
A wild pitch from Mariners starter Jacob Billingsley (Mississippi State) brought home Graffanino to tie the game and then Gasper delivered the big blow of the inning, a two-run triple to right-center, capping a five-run frame for the Whitecaps.
“I saw a couple people on base and I just wanted to shorten up and get a hit for the team, get some runs in,” said Gasper. “I got a good pitch to hit and I was just able to capitalize.”
Brewster’s other big inning came in the bottom of the fifth, when Harwich’s lack of control did them in.
Darius Hill (West Virginia), who went 2-4 on the day, tied the game at six with an RBI-double to center and advanced to third on a passed ball.
The Whitecaps retook the lead 7-6 when Hill scored on a passed ball, before Graffanino delivered again, this time tripling to right-center, scoring Zack Gahagan (UNC) and making it 8-6 Brewster.
Graffanino went 2-2 on the day with two runs scored and two runs driven in.
Brewster tacked on another when Kyle Datres (UNC) reached on an infield single that scored Graffanino.
“I’m just taking time when I’m sitting on the bench and going over my approach,” said Gahagan, who finished the day 2-3 with two runs scored on his 22nd birthday. “Reassessing the approaches that I struggled with at the beginning and just taking it into the game.”
“A lot of it at first was timing. I got away from the timing and just started to think about pitches. Right now I’m just hunting the fastball and I’m getting them. I’ve just got to make good contact and I’ve been able to get some hits and get on-base.”
Harwich would hit two batters in the inning, allow two passed balls, and throw a wild pitch.
Up until the top of the ninth, the Mariners’ only offense came in the form of two three-run innings, one in the top of the first and the other in the third.
The Mariners jumped on Whitecaps starter Matt Beck (LSU) early, with center fielder Antoine Duplantis (LSU) setting the tone from the get-go with a ground-rule double in the first at-bat of the game before scoring on a wild pitch.
A Nick Dalesandro (Purdue) RBI-groundout brought home Smith gave Harwich an early 2-0 lead, while Ryne Ogren (Elon) brought home the third Mariners run with an RBI-single.
Then in the third, Smith launched his first home run of the game off Beck, a two-run shot, which tied the game at five, before Harwich catcher Brad Debo’s (NC State) RBI-single gave the Mariners a 6-5 lead.
Neither starting pitcher lasted long, with Beck going just two and two-thirds innings and giving up six earned runs on six hits, while walking four and striking out just one. Billingsley, on the other hand, managed just two innings and gave up five earned runs.
Luckily for Whitecaps coach Jamie Shevchik, the Whitecaps won the battle of the bullpens, with Conor McNamara (Marist) and Reveno combining for the last six and one-third innings.
McNamara (1-0) was stellar, allowing just two hits in three and one-third scoreless innings, striking out one, and earning the win, his first in the Cape League.
After Christopher Gau (Jacksonville) tossed a perfect frame, Cole Aker (UNC), Theo Rodliff (Stony Brook), and Brian Christian (Northeastern) surrendered the final six runs for the Mariners, with Aker (1-4) taking the loss.
Before the game, the Whitecaps handed out their individual regular season awards.
Gasper, who finished the season batting .305 with five home runs and 30 runs batted in, which ranked second in the league, was named team MVP and received the Coaches’ Captain Award as well.
“It’s special. It’s an honor,” Gasper said. “I’m proud of myself, but I’m thankful for everyone that’s helped me along the way. The coaching staff, my dad’s been here all summer working with me. The coaching staff grinds, and there have been a lot of people along the way that have been helping me and it’s a really good moment in my life.”
Taylor, who tied for the league lead with nine home runs, was named the Offensive Player of the Year, while Graffanino received the Defensive Player of the Year.
Pitcher Tony Locey (Georgia) was named the Best Teammate/10th Man, and Joe Molettiere (Monmouth) took home the Opportunity Award, presented to a player who starts the season on a temporary contract and makes the most of their opportunity.
With the win, Brewster finished the regular season with a .500 record. Entering the game, the Whitecaps needed either a win or a Chatham loss to secure the number three seed in the Eastern division playoffs.
WHAT’S NEXT: With the regular season concluded, Brewster gets ready to face the three-time defending champion Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in the first round of the Eastern Division playoffs. Game one is on Saturday at 4:00 p.m. at Red Wilson Field.
“The pressure is on them, not us, going into the playoffs, that’s for sure,” said Shevchik. "If I had to choose anybody who's going to knock them off the throne, I'm happy that we're at least going to have a crack at it."
In six matchups, Y-D won the season series 4-1-1.