Big fifth inning, low-octane offense too much for Whitecaps

Starter Sam Garcia (High Point) allowed two runs over four innings of work, but struck out four batters and surrendered just one walk. Photo credit Sadie Parker.

by Eamonn Ryan

HARWICH—In a 44-game season, stinkers are bound to happen. The Brewster Whitecaps (4-3-2) had a stinker Tuesday night.

Nothing seemed to go right in the 9-3 loss to the Harwich Mariners (6-3-0) at Whitehouse Field on a frigid night, and the biggest culprit was a six-run fifth inning that ballooned the Mariners’ lead to 8-0.

“It’s an ugly loss. We didn’t give ourselves a chance,” said Whitecaps manager Jamie Shevchik. “From an offensive standpoint we just didn’t have a whole lot to work with.”

The big fifth inning consisted of six runs on just three hits, but four batters reached base via a walk. Right-hander Tommy Szczepanski (Virginia Tech) struck out the first batter of the inning, then allowed the next four runners to get on base. He walked in Harwich center fielder Jacob Humphrey (UMass Lowell), then Kennedy Jones (UNC Greensboro) hit a sacrifice fly to make it 4-0.

On the next run-scoring play, Mariners first baseman Matt Scannell (Princeton) hit a single to right, scoring two runs, but a throwing error advanced him to second and allowed an extra run to score on the play, blowing the game open to 7-0 Harwich.

“In this league you don’t score a bunch of runs because you hit the baseball a little bit. The beginnings are always created by an error, a walk, hit batsman and then a bleeder,” Shevchik said. “But there’s not going to be balls sprayed all over the yard and end up with a 9-3 score.”

After Szczepanski’s inning, lefty Tyler Mudd (Holy Cross) came in and went two scoreless innings, allowing just one hit and punching out two hitters.

Throughout the game, the Whitecaps couldn’t catch a break and suffered multiple broken bats.

Harwich lefty Tom Chmielewski (Princeton) eased through the Brewster order, allowing just two baserunners in the first six innings. Trevor Austin (Missouri) hit a double and Dylan Hoy (Louisville) walked. That was it until the seventh inning.

“He just threw strikes,” Shevchik said. “He sawed our guys off. We broke a handful of bats. We didn’t have a whole lot of clean ABs and a lot of hard hit balls.”

The Whitecaps didn’t get a hit, but two hit-by-pitches, three walks and a sacrifice fly amounted to two runs in the top of the seventh. Austin, Ike Irish (Auburn) and Jaime Ferrer (Florida State) got on before Payton Green (NC State) hit a sacrifice fly to score Austin. 

A walk by Joe Stella (Barry) scored Irish, but that was all the Whitecaps could manage as Harwich’s Chris Lotito (Jacksonville) came into a bases-loaded jam and posted a backwards K, ending any threat the Whitecaps could pose.

Joe Stella breaks a bat. He performed the best offensively for the Caps, going 1-for-3 with a walk and two RBI. Photo credit Sadie Parker.

As Shevchik said, the best part about the Cape League is that the next night almost always presents a chance to bounce back. Brewster hadn’t been hit with a big loss all season, and it finally came Tuesday.

“Got another one tomorrow, so you can’t hang your head and think about it too much,” Shevchik said.

Brewster goes into a back-to-back “series” with the Orleans Firebirds, as they welcome the Firebirds Wednesday evening to Stony Brook Field at 5 p.m. and head to Eldredge Park in Orleans the next night for a 6:30 p.m. first pitch.

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