Jonah Sebring (UC Santa Barbara) scored the winning run and hit a single as the Whitecaps snapped a six-game losing streak. Photo credit Kayla McKenna.
by Eamonn Ryan
BREWSTER—With two outs and the bases loaded in a 3-3 ballgame, the Brewster Whitecaps dugout was abuzz with an energy that had not been present over the course of its six-game losing streak.
Davis Diaz (Vanderbilt) strode to the plate at Stony Brook Field against an ominous gray sky that was threatening to open up with a thunderstorm at any moment.
There was no crack of either thunder or the bat, but a loud roar erupted from the grandstand as the 1-1 pitch squeaked away from the Harwich catcher and Jonah Sebring (UC Santa Barbara) rushed to the plate, easily scoring and giving the Whitecaps (10-17-2) a 4-3 lead, which would hold for a win over the Mariners (14-16-0).
“I was just trying to do anything I can to try and score and get us a lead,” Sebring said, “so we can go out on defense and have our pitcher feel a little bit better about closing the game out.”
Following Sebring’s run, Drew Blake (Oklahoma State) got the final three outs to secure the first Whitecaps win since Thursday, July 6.
“So you can really kind of see what kind of team you really have with the celebration after a walk off win…or a really tight game,” manager Jamie Shevchik said. “We got into that last inning, yeah, it felt like guys had a little bit of a pulse, which is good.”
The positive vibes and Sebring’s heads-up effort validated the winning formula the coaches had been tinkering with: getting guys in the dugout who want to win night in, night out.
“One of the questions that I kept asking everybody was, ‘What type of kid is he? Does he want to be here? Is he excited to be here? Does he have a high motor? Is he energetic?’” Shevchik said. “[Sebring] came in, had a base hit, scored the winning run, stole a base in the last inning. And that’s something that we haven’t seen a whole lot so far.”
Sebring made his first start for the Whitecaps Saturday after flying in from California, where he had been rehabbing after suffering a broken jaw May 9.
“I’ve been missing it so much,” Sebring said. “When I got the call and I heard the news, I was so pumped to travel all over the country and play baseball.”
Facing his first live pitching since May 9, Sebring singled with two outs in the eighth. Jared Jones (LSU) reached via a hit-by-pitch and James Tibbs (Florida State) followed with a walk to load the bases. After the wild pitch, however, Diaz struck out.
The game remained tied ahead of the eighth thanks to strong pitching from their first two arms, Fisher Jameson (Florida) and Josh Sanders (Texas Tech). The pair combined to allow just three runs off four hits, striking out five batters.
It was the first time the Whitecaps had surrendered fewer than five runs since their 4-3 loss in a shortened game at Hyannis Saturday, July 8.
Jameson opened the game with a punchout on a nasty changeup, setting the tone for the rest of his outing. Through four innings of work, he allowed just two runs on two hits and struck out three batters.
The righty only allowed the Mariners to score in the third inning off three hard-hit balls, as deep sacrifice flies from Seaver King (Wake Forest) and Ethan Anderson (Virginia) plated two Harwich runs.
“So part of winning baseball games is getting momentum on your side and keeping it,” Shevchik said. “But [Jameson’s] a young kid and it’s something that he’s gonna learn.”
Sanders entered in the top of the fifth and retired the first nine hitters before the eighth inning, when two singles followed by a double play scored Kennedy Jones (UNC Greensboro) to tie the game at 3-3.
On the offensive side, the Whitecaps got started in the bottom of the second. Mason White (Arizona) doubled and Dylan Leach (Missouri State) blooped a single to move White to third. Then, in a bit of trickeration, Leach stole second and got caught in a rundown while White dashed home, sliding in under the tag to score the first run of the game.
The Whitecaps pounced on mistakes made by the Mariners pitchers later on, as in the sixth inning, Josh Pearson (LSU) and Will Turner (South Alabama) walked to put runners on first and second. Ike Irish (Auburn) came through and punched a single through the right side to score Pearson on the next play.
Then in the seventh, Diaz walked and Pearson picked up his seventh RBI of the season with a 99-mile-per-hour rocket that dropped in right-center field. That gave the Whitecaps a 3-2 lead before Harwich tied it in the eighth, but they made use of the seven walks and two hit-by-pitches the Mariners surrendered.
“I feel like we’ve been shooting ourselves in the foot for a big part of the summer,” Shevchik said. “So to see it happen to somebody else, especially a team that we’re chasing, it feels good. Feels really good that we’re on the winning side of it.”
The Whitecaps head on the road to the East division rival Chatham Anglers Sunday night with first pitch at Veterans Field at 7 p.m.