Offensive firepower and fresh faces jolt Whitecaps to third-straight win

All smiles for Derek Berg (Army) after hitting a two-run homer in the Whitecaps’ win. He hadn’t seen live pitching before Wednesday night since the Charlottesville Regional in June. Photo credit Sadie Parker.

by Eamonn Ryan

BREWSTER—The Brewster Whitecaps came into a back-to-back series with the Harwich Mariners with just 83 runs scored. After Wednesday’s 7-1 win and Thursday night’s 12-6 win, both over the Harwich Mariners (11-11), the Whitecaps (9-11-2) raised that total to 102 and are riding a three-game winning streak.

“Hitting is contagious,” outfielder James Tibbs (Florida State) said. “And the reality is, when one guy hits, you start to see it just start to come and come and come.”

There was no shortage of offensive firepower for Brewster, who used two blitzkrieg innings with five runs in each to roll over the Mariners at Stony Brook Field. The team was led by newcomers Josh Pearson (LSU) and Derek Berg (Army) combined for five RBI in key moments. 

“[Hitting coach] Scott Grimes gets to keep his job,” Whitecaps manager Jamie Shevchik jokingly said. “It just feels like there’s a different vibe in the dugout … with the arrival of the LSU kids and Derek Berg behind the plate, it just feels like there’s less pressure on these guys.”

The game didn’t necessarily start well for the Whitecaps as they were shut out in the first inning. In the top of the second, Harwich center fielder Devin Obee (Harwich) launched a two-run moonshot to left field and gave the Mariners a 2-0 lead. Brewster could have folded, but instead responded in the best way possible.

Berg led off the second inning with a walk and Tibbs moved him over to third with a single. With runners on the corners, Mason White (Arizona) almost gave Tibbs a haircut with his single over Tibbs’ head that scored Berg.

Payton Green (Georgia Tech) got in on the fun with a much-needed two-RBI single to right field—his first hit since June 30 at Falmouth—which gave the Whitecaps a 3-2 lead. Will Turner (South Alabama) extended it to 5-2 with a bouncing two-RBI single over the second baseman. 

“When you’re hitting a two-hole or three-hole, there’s a lot of pressure put on those guys,” Shevchik said. “But now that we can lengthen out the lineup a little bit, there’s less pressure put on the bottom and they can go out there and have days like they did.”

Harwich struck back with two more runs in the third, including a solo home run from first baseman Ethan Anderson (Virginia), and the tying run in the fourth off a wild pitch.

But then trouble brewed for Mariners reliever Aidan Moza (Alabama), who had not surrendered a run in his first eight innings of work this summer. Brewster loaded the bases off two singles and a walk before Pearson unloaded on an offspeed pitch and gapped a double to clear the bases.

“We had the bases loaded two dozen times a year and the best we could do for the most part was muster up an infield single here and there,” Shevchik said. “So for somebody to step in and hit a ball off the wall for a bases-clearing double that’s something that we haven’t seen yet.”

James Tibbs (Florida State) barrels up a high fastball for a home run. The lefty leads the Whitecaps in home runs this season with three. Photo credit Sadie Parker.

Tibbs saw his teammate stranded all alone on second base and followed up Pearson’s 390-foot double with a 410-foot laser over the center-field fence, extending  Brewster’s lead to 10-5.

“It felt good,” Tibbs said. “I was just looking for a fastball up and got it so that was exactly what I was looking for.”

The hit parade would certainly not end with Tibbs’ blast, as Berg launched a 429-foot bomb to left-center that plated both himself and Pearson in the sixth.

“After taking a month off of hitting since our last game at Army, it kind of felt good to run into one,” Berg said. 

Berg’s teammates also showed their love to the catcher, who can only play with Brewster for about a week and a half before he reports for field training, as he’s committed to spending five years in the armed services. He’s just here because he loves to play ball, something everyone in the dugout respects.

“He wants to come out here for eight days and compete,” Tibbs said. “I can’t tell you how cool that is to the rest of us.”

Brewster was also buoyed by strong performances from Texas Tech teammates Josh Sanders and Brendan Lysik, who combined for five shutout innings out of the bullpen after starter Carson Swilling (South Alabama) went four innings and surrendered five runs, four earned. 

The damage to Swilling was done mostly off the two home runs, which were rarer mistakes than the scoreline might headline, according to Shevchik.

“Swilling was just good. wasn’t great, but it’s something that he needs to build off for sure,” Shevchik said. “And if we’re going to win games, you know, our starters have to minimize the damage early and then our bullpen guys got to clean it up.”

The now-third-place Whitecaps look to keep up their bountiful offensive harvest on the road at Wareham Friday night at 6 p.m. at Spillane Field.

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