ARWICH – Mother Nature held off just long enough for the Harwich Mariners and Brewster Whitecaps to play without any weather interference on Monday. The Mariners, however, must have missed the memo because they did not hold off one bit, smashing three thunderous home runs, including a grand slam, in a 10-4 win over the rival Whitecaps.
Not only did the victory give Harwich confidence heading into the final stretch of the season, but it also improved the team’s record to 14-17-6, tying them with Brewster for second place in the East division.
First baseman Joe Vetrano said the win is the start of a late-season run for the Mariners.
“Hopefully we start to get rolling,” said Vetrano, a junior at Boston College. “It's not about how you start, it’s about how you finish, so hopefully we can start getting hot going into playoffs.”
Despite the final score, the first runs on the board came courtesy of Whitecaps catcher Kurtis Byrne (Texas Christian) when he sent a two-run home run over the left field wall in the top of the first.
However, the 2-0 lead did not last. Mariners second baseman Nick Goodwin (Kansas State) matched Byrne with a solo shot to lead off the inning, bringing his season home run total to six.
“I think that was pretty big, obviously early in the game we gave up two runs in the first inning, so to get that one run in the bottom of the first was pretty, pretty big and definitely helped with getting the momentum back on our side,” Goodwin said.
The Mariners took full advantage of the momentum Goodwin’s blast gave them in the second inning by scoring seven runs to build an 8-2 lead. The inning was capped off by a Vetrano grand slam that blew the game open.
Harwich manager Steve Englert said the first two innings put the team in the driver’s seat.
“[Goodwin’s home run] was a good answer back, steal some momentum back, then that second inning we jumped on it,” Englert said. “Joe obviously came up with it with the grand slam there that really put us over the top, so that was great to see.”
Before the slam, which knocked Whitecaps starting pitcher Najer Victor (Central Florida) out of the game, the Mariners plated three other runs. The inning started with a Brock Wilken (Wake Forest) single, followed by a walk for first baseman Hunter Stokely (North Carolina). Wilken was driven in by a William Hamiter (Alabama) single, and with two runners on, outfielder Ethan O’Donnell (Virginia) smacked a double to bring them home.
Goodwin said the grand slam was the nail in the coffin for the Whitecaps.
“That was huge,” Goodwin said. “I think that was the biggest hit in the game. At that point, I think it was 4- 2, so that kind of broke open the game right there and then from then on, it was just all Mariners.”
All Mariners is right. They added another run to the lead in the fifth with a Brock Wilken home run, making it three jacks for the Mariners and four total in the contest. In the seventh, Stokely singled to score shortstop Kalae Harrison (NC State).
The Whitecaps added on their own two runs in the ninth, but it was to no avail as the Mariners pitching staff kept their offense in check.
The four Harwich pitchers – Karl Hartman (Florida), Jack Pawloski (UMass), Teddy Sharkey (Coastal Carolina) and Garrett Harker (Cincinnati) – combined for 12 strikeouts, with Pawloski earning the win in his first CCBL appearance after joining the team just days earlier.
Pawloski threw two shutout innings and allowed three hits and recorded two strikeouts, a first outing that Englert was very pleased with.
“It was a perfect situation for him to get his feet wet, pitching with a pretty good lead, just go out there and attack,” Englert said. “The bullpen did their job and saved our pen for tomorrow.”
Each game gets increasingly more important as the team inches closer to playoffs; Englert said Monday was a good start.
“Nick got us going there in the first and we strung some hits together and some good at-bats, and we had that big inning that came second and just kept after it. We pitched it really well tonight, too,” Englert said. “It's gonna be a grind the rest of the way, it's just gonna be a dogfight right down the stretch.”