By: Aodhán Doyle
HARWICH, MA- The Brewster Whitecaps looked like they were headed for a fifth consecutive loss after two innings at Whitehouse Field, trailing 4-2 and victims of the same fielding woes that have plagued the team all season. Instead, however, the Whitecaps came back, snapping a four-game losing streak in dramatic fashion.
With Independence Day fireworks filling the night sky in the distance, Kyle Datres (UNC) delivered the go-ahead blow in the eighth inning, an RBI-single to right field and the Whitecaps (9-10-1) held on to defeat the Harwich Mariners (7-12-1) 7-6 on Tuesday.
“It’s huge. We lose a game today and then our backs are against the wall going into tomorrow and then an off day the next day,” said Whitecaps coach Jamie Shevchik. “Getting the win today kind of eases the tension a little bit, especially playing Harwich. They’re below us in the standings so tomorrow, we know what they have.”
Entering the eighth inning knotted at six, Brewster loaded the bases with nobody out thanks to two walks and a single. Datres, who reached in all five of his plate appearances, then looped a 1-2 breaking ball from Cole Aker (UNC) over Harwich second baseman Cobie Vance’s (Alabama) head.
“I was just saying, 'Get down! Get down! Get down!'” said Datres. “Any way the ball gets in, I’ll take it.”
“I was actually facing Cole Aker from North Carolina, so I kind of knew what he had going into the at-bat. Tough guy, throws hard, good slider. I just fouled off a couple sliders there, and was able to loop one in behind the second baseman and the winning run scored.”
Sam Bordner (Louisville) and Robert Broom (Mercer) closed the game out for the Whitecaps, each pitching an inning.
In the ninth, Harwich got the tying run ninety feet away against Broom, but the right-hander struck out Mariners’ designated hitter Kyler Murray (Oklahoma) looking to secure the Brewster victory.
“My exact words to Broom and the infield were, 'if they try and do anything crazy with the runner at first base let him go,'” said Shevchik about his ninth inning mound visit. “Let the guy go to second base, I don’t care if he’s the winning run, we’re going to put the ball into Robert Broom’s hands and he’s going to get us the win.”
Brewster received what, at the time, they believed would be the biggest hit of the game for them in the top of the sixth inning when Julian Infante (Vanderbilt) broke a 4-4 tie with a two-run single to left field. The liner scored Datres and Justin Kunz (Gardner-Webb), giving Brewster the 6-4 advantage.
“He’s a guy we’re going to really rely on too,” said Shevchik of Infante. “If we’re going to be any good, guys like Julian Infante, Nick Dunn, Zack Gahagan are going to have to get it going. They’re going to be a big part of what we’re doing.”
Harwich would respond, however, getting two runs off Brewster reliever Jonathan Stiever (Indiana) in the bottom of the seventh and, once again, evening the score.
Stiever (2-1) would eventually earn the win for the Whitecaps despite giving up two runs in two innings while striking out only one.
Tony Locey (Georgia) got the start for the Whitecaps, earning a no-decision after tossing five innings of three-hit ball, giving up four runs (three earned) and striking out five.
Locey was initially scheduled to start Wednesday’s game against the Mariners, but was pushed up when Shevchik had to bring in J.R. McDermott (Tuesday’s initially scheduled starter) in relief on Sunday in Orleans.
The only trouble Locey ran into was in the bottom of the second, when four Harwich runs crossed the plate. Locey walked the first two batters of the inning, while the first run scored on an error by Brewster shortstop Connor Smith (Western Michigan). Singles by Nick Dalesandro (Purdue) and Andrew Moritz (UNC-Greensboro) would bring home another three runs, giving Harwich a 4-2 lead.
Locey rebounded nicely, however, finishing his outing with three scoreless frames despite not having his best control all evening.
“He had the one bad inning, but I was really pleased with that he wanted to go back out there and threw the next two innings without giving up any runs and went back to being himself and painting the strike zone,” said Shevchik. “The two walks and then we had an error, it was a disaster of an inning. He could’ve folded up and came out, but he wanted to go back out for a little bit of redemption so I tip my hat to him.”
The Whitecaps got out to an initial 2-0 lead courtesy of a Jake Billingsley (Miss. State) wild pitch and a Darius Hill (West Virginia) RBI-groundout.
After Harwich took the lead, Brewster answered in the top of the third on a long Chandler Taylor (Alabama) home run to right and a Nick Dunn (Maryland) RBI-single.
Jamie Sara (William and Mary) (0-1) took the loss for the Mariners, while Broom earned his second save for the Whitecaps.
After being held to a combined six hits in their previous two games, the Brewster offense had nine hits coming from seven different hitters.
“We just got on base. People on base and making things happen, opened up holes for the other guys,” said Datres. “We were just more consistent throughout the entire night and it paid off for us.”
Taylor finished his day at the plate 2-4 with a walk, and his fourth home run of the season, giving him sole possession of the team’s lead.
The game, which lasted an incredible three hours and fifty-three minutes, was the longest of the season for any team in the Cape League, regardless of number of innings played.
WHAT’S NEXT: The two Eastern Division rivals face off again on Wednesday at Stony Brook Field in Brewster. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.