From Baton Rouge to Brewster, the LSU combo of Jared Jones (right) and Josh Pearson (left) rocketed a home run each in the Whitecaps’ drubbing of Yarmouth-Dennis in the opening game of the Cape League playoffs. Photo credit Sadie Parker.
by Eamonn Ryan
YARMOUTH—The last time the Brewster Whitecaps faced Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox starter Smith Pinson (Kennesaw State), the lanky righty mowed through the order and posted six scoreless innings.
Brewster must’ve read the scouting report on Pinson correctly this time.
En route to an 18-7 win over the Red Sox (0-1) in game one of the 2023 Cape League playoffs, the Whitecaps (1-0) pummeled Pinson for six runs on four hits over just three innings. The offensive onslaught, led by LSU standouts Josh Pearson and Jared Jones, snapped a six-game losing streak from the end of the regular season.
“Any time you face a guy twice the advantage is gonna go to the hitters,” Whitecaps manager Jamie Shevchik said. “You’ve got something to go off … nothing prepares you for physically seeing the guy and I think he just didn’t have a whole lot of stuff today to get us out.”
The Whitecaps attacked Pinson early, as Davis Diaz (Vanderbilt) and Pearson reached off singles to right field. Then Jones strode to the plate, ready to pounce. With two outs, Jones demolished a pitch to deep left field, punishing a hanging curveball by Pinson for a 3-0 Whitecaps lead.
Before setting off on his victory lap, he soaked the homer in from the batter’s box for a brief moment.
“I got all of that,” Jones said. “It’s just been a long summer, so I enjoy the ones that I do get.”
In the second, it was the Red Sox’s own mistakes that came back to bite them. After Brock Tibbitts (Indiana) reached second via an error, a singular wild pitch scored him from 180 feet away. As a ball in the dirt bounced to the visitor’s dugout, Y-D’s catcher couldn’t find it and Tibbitts took advantage, extending Brewster’s advantage to 4-0.
The East division champions put up a semblance of a fight, chipping at Whitecaps starter Fisher Jameson in the second as Ryan Jackson (USC) singled home Hunter Hines (Mississippi State).
But the Whitecaps order stepped up again in the third inning, as Pearson unloaded on another mistake from Pinson, shooting a 390-foot two-run homer over the right-center field fence to make it 6-1.
If the first three innings were warning shots, the fourth was a full-on blitzkrieg from the Whitecaps offense. They scored seven runs on five hits, walking three times as well. Red Sox reliever Ryan Delgado (Cal Baptist) took the majority of the blows, with the biggest coming off a two-RBI single from James Tibbs (Florida State).
When the fourth finally ended, Brewster came out in the driver’s seat of not just the first game, but the series too. Down 13-2, the Red Sox had to use four pitchers before the sixth inning and began sending out pinch hitters for the middle of the order.
Brewster didn’t stop there, however. Tyler Pettorini (Ohio State) led off the fifth and roped a line drive to right-center. Off the bat, it looked like a solid extra-base hit, but the ball just kept carrying and fell over the fence for his first home run of the summer.
“Happy for him, he’s a guy that came over and took a chance on coming over and is playing well and has earned the right to play,” Shevchik said. “I think he’s hitting really well. So for him to get a home run was cool to see.”
Later in the inning, Mason White (Arizona) poked an RBI single through the right side to score Diaz and tie the Whitecaps’ season-high in runs scored at 15.
However, that record was broken immediately afterward, as the Whitecaps tacked on three more thanks to a bases-loaded walk by Pettorini and Diaz’s two-RBI single.
Diaz had a dazzling offensive night in a season full of them, going 4-for-4 with three RBI, three runs scored and two walks. His SEC brethren, Jones and Pearson, also showed their experience in postseason play as they combined to go 4-for-7 with six RBI, two homers and three walks.
“They’re winners,” Shevchik said. “When you have guys that are winners it’s a good influence on everybody else.”
On the other side of the ball, Fisher Jameson (Florida) got the ball to open game one and did enough to keep the Red Sox attack at bay, allowing four runs in 4.2 innings and striking out four. Brennan Phillips (Oklahoma State) followed and gave up three runs in 2.2 innings, also punching out four.
The closer — albeit the 18-7 game lacked a save situation — was Luke Lyman (West Virginia), who shut down the Red Sox’s remaining hitters, posting a scoreless 1.2 innings of his own.
The Whitecaps threw their best and did all they could to get a win in game one, which just reinforced Shevchik’s message all along; it’s a new season.
“I think the mentality is that this is a brand new season. And anything can happen. This is baseball,” Shevchik said. “You just have to believe that you’re good and do the little things right. And now at this point, it just ‘play until the end.’”
Brewster looks to go 2-0 in their new season as they get a chance to clinch a spot in the East division final Saturday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Stony Brook Field.