By: Koki Riley
HARWICH, MA- Coming into Wednesday on a two-game winning streak and facing a Harwich Mariners team that his team had beaten in all of their four first contests, Whitecaps coach Jamie Shevchik looked to continue the momentum in the team’s second-to-last regular season game.
Unfortunately for Shevchik, a four-run bottom of the sixth inning for the Mariners (15-27-1) doomed the Whitecaps, as Brewster (20-21-2) fell 7-4 at Whitehouse Field.
Entering the bottom of the sixth knotted at two, Harwich took the lead on a Nick Dalesandro (Purdue) ground-rule double.
Then, in what turned out to be a game-defining play, the Mariners took control a play later.
With runners on second and third, Harwich second baseman Cobie Vance (Alabama) hit a groundball to first, but Josh Smith (LSU) beat Julian Infante’s (Vanderbilt) throw home, making it 4-2 Harwich. Brewster catcher Michael Curry (Georgia), however, debated the call with home plate umpire Brian Troupe while still holding the ball. Vance, recognizing the ball was still in play, dashed to second. Curry’s throw to second got away, allowing Dalesandro to score and Vance to move to third, giving Harwich a 5-2 edge.
Capping off a disastrous inning for Brewster, Matt Vierling (Notre Dame) singled to drive in Vance and give Harwich a four-run lead.
Harwich reliever Tyler Baum (UNC) kept Brewster at bay for the next inning and two-thirds, finishing his outing with six strikeouts in five and two-thirds innings and lowering his season earned run average to 2.72, best in the Cape League.
“His arm slot and his ability to throw strikes when he wants to,” said Brewster outfielder Marty Costes (Maryland) about what makes Baum so tough. “He was mixing locations in-and-out really well and, you know, that’s baseball sometimes, good pitching beats good hitting.”
Mariners manager Steve Englert removed Baum with one out in the ninth inning so that his righty could receive a standing ovation from the Harwich fans. Wednesday was Harwich’s final home game of the season.
Austin Hansen (Oklahoma), who relieved Baum, struck out Mickey Gasper (Bryant) to end the game.
The Whitecaps got two runs back in the seventh when Costes singled to center, scoring Nick Dunn (Maryland) and A.J. Graffanino (Washington) and cutting the Brewster deficit to two.
“I was just trying to take something away from the pitcher that was working in the game,” said Costes. “I noticed he was getting his breaking ball over a lot for strikes. So that last at-bat where I had the single, I just waited for that breaking ball to come. I didn’t even, you know, take strike one. Being aggressive in that situation actually helped.”
Though Harwich emerged victorious, it was Brewster that drew first blood in the top of the second inning when Curry singled home Costes to make it 1-0 Whitecaps.
Brewster tacked on a second run in the fourth when Christian Molfetta (Stanford) looped a single to right-center, scoring Infante and doubling the Whitecaps lead.
Harwich responded quickly, however, scoring one run on a fourth inning wild pitch and then tying the game in the fifth on an RBI-single.
On the mound for Brewster was Pauly Milto (Indiana), who was stellar, allowing just one hit in three innings of work.
For the second consecutive day, Brewster used a scripted innings approach, determining how many innings each pitcher would throw before the start of the game.
Bradley Spooner (Saddleback CC) relieved Milto, surrendering two runs in two innings, before turning the ball over to Troy Miller (Michigan), who gave up four runs (three earned) in two innings and took the loss.
Ryan Cyr (Kansas) was the last Brewster arm of the game, pitching the bottom of the eighth inning. Cyr allowed the final Harwich run of the game on a wild pitch that gave the Mariners a 7-4 lead.
Before Baum and Hansen, Logan Browning (Florida Southern) got the start for Englert’s Mariners. Browning pitched three innings and allowed just one unearned run to cross home plate, while striking out two.
Wednesday also marked the final game of the season for Whitecaps assistant coach Jason Kanzler, who had to return to his job as a physics teacher at Katy High School outside of Houston, Texas.
“He’s a hard-working guy,” Costes said. “He’s really smart, man. It’s amazing some of the things he says and to be that young, it’s mind-blowing. I’m just grateful that he’s been with us for so long. I’m definitely going to reach out to him in the spring. Those types of relationships just don’t go away.
“Working with a more high-caliber athlete and baseball player,” Kanzler said about his biggest takeaway. “Understanding how to approach them when it comes to coaching them and what should be said and shouldn’t be said. The speed of the game and to get them to understand that they can slow the game down because of how good they are.”
Kanzler, who played college baseball at Buffalo before playing in the Minnesota Twins farm system, spent his first season with the Whitecaps working on hitting mechanics and outfield defensive techniques.
While he reached twice on walks, Dunn’s seventeen-game hitting streak was snapped as the Brewster second baseman went 0-3 on the day. Dunn still ranks fifth in the Cape League with a .333 average.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Whitecaps conclude their regular season on Thursday against the Mariners. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m.
By: Carter Woodiel
BREWSTER, MA- At times this season for Brewster Whitecaps head coach Jamie Shevchik, the gap between Brewster and the top teams in the Cape League's East division seemed too big to bridge.
Now, though, he thinks his club is hitting its stride -- just in time for the playoffs.
"It seems like our guys, we're kind of peaking at the right time." Shevchik said. "You're supposed to be playing your best baseball towards the end, and it seems like that's what we're doing."
Despite no Brewster pitcher going more than 2 innings and several Whitecaps regulars taking the night off, the Whitecaps beat the first-place Orleans Firebirds 6-2 at Stony Brook Field on Tuesday.
Kyle Datres (North Carolina) had his first home run of the season, Justin Kunz (Gardner-Webb) had two RBI singles and Nick Dunn (Maryland) extended his hitting streak to 17 games in the win.
It was the Whitecaps' fourth win in their last five games. Only two games remain on the schedule before the Cape League playoffs start on Saturday.
Brewster will face either Orleans or Yarmouth-Dennis in the first round. The Whitecaps have beaten those teams in consecutive games after a 5-1 win at Y-D on Sunday.
"I think it's big for our team's confidence," Shevchik said of the wins. "They know that they can play with these guys."
Brewster took the lead in the bottom of the first on an RBI single from Christian Molfetta (Stanford). It was Molfetta's third straight game with an RBI.
Zack Gahagan (North Carolina) drove in a run with a single in the second, followed by an infield single from Dunn that drove in a third run, and kept his hitting streak alive.
"I was just trying to stick to my approach, stay simple, and just wait for a pitch I can drive," Dunn said.
Firebirds manager Kelly Nicholson pulled starter Logan Gilbert (Stetson) after the second inning. Gilbert gave up three runs (two earned) on five hits, walking one and striking out two.
The Whitecaps added two more runs in the fifth inning, starting with Datres' home run. Datres hit a solo shot on the first pitch he saw from Firebirds reliever (and Tar Heels teammate) Taylor Sugg.
Kunz followed the home run up with an RBI single later in the frame. He'd add another in the seventh, bringing his season RBI total to nine.
The two Orleans runs came in the top of the sixth when Ethan Paul homered to right field. The two-run shot was his fourth of the season.
Tuesday was a "staff day" for Whitecaps pitching, with Shevchik writing out in advance who would pitch when and for how long.
Not everything went according to plan, but five Whitecaps pitchers held the Firebirds to five hits for the game, walking two and striking out eight.
Tony Locey (Georgia), whom Shevchik considers the ace of Brewster's staff, threw the first two innings without allowing a baserunner. He struck out two and walked none.
"Before the game I told myself I was going a complete game, just to make sure I knew I prepared myself," Locey said, adding he made a point of working to prevent walks on the mound.
"Sometimes it can be tough coming in, only locking in for a couple innings, and that was good that they did that," Kunz, who caught all nine innings for Brewster, said of his team's staff. "You have to tip your hats to 'em."
WHAT’S NEXT: Brewster takes the short drive Harwich, taking on the Mariners Wednesday night at 6:30. Fans can listen to the game on the Whitecaps' YouTube channel.