WAREHAM, Mass.–The Bourne Braves came into the playoffs with a bleak 0-5-1 record against second place Wareham Gatemen. Friday was a different story, as the Braves beat the Gatemen when it counted most, pulling out a come-from-behind 5-4 win in extras.
Starters Tony Dibrell (Kennesaw State) and Brett Conine (Cal State Fullerton) battled for 5 1-3 innings.
Wareham struck first, with an RBI single from LSU’s Cole Freeman. Dibrell cruised through five but hit a road block in the sixth, after giving up a leadoff double from Joey Bart (Georgia Tech) and two singles, to be pulled with a line of four runs off eight hits with seven strikeouts.
This started the battle of the bullpens, as Bourne and Wareham each made five calls to the ‘pen.
Prior to the three-run sixth inning for Wareham, the Braves had tied the game 1-1 in the top of the sixth off an RBI single from Willy Yahn (UConn.)
Coming out of the sixth with a 4-1 deficit, the Braves buckled down and proceeded to slowly close the gap, with the bullpen holding the Gatemen to four runs.
After a walk to Connor Wong (Houston), and a pitching substitution during David MacKinnon’s (Hartford) at-bat, MacKinnon hit an RBI double to score Wong and bring the score to 4-2.
Shapiro used a handful of arms in the sixth and seventh innings, with Brendon Little (UNC Chapel Hill), Robert Hitt (Quinnipiac) and Sean Leland (Louisville) combining to go 1 2-3 innings, giving up one hit with three walks and two strikeouts.
The Braves again threatened in the eighth, with a walk from Brennan Breaux (LSU) and double by Evan Mendoza (NC State.) While Justin Yurchak (Binghamton) hit an RBI sac-fly to right-center to put the Braves one run away from an even playing field.
Head coach Jerry Weinstein made a defensive substitution at third in the eighth, taking out Colton Shaver (BYU), who led the Cape in home runs and RBIs during the regular season, for Preston Grand Pre (California Berkley.)
Chad Luensmann (Nebraska) relieved Leland in the top of the eighth and shutdown the Gatemen offense for two innings, giving up one hit with one strikeout.
Speed became a crucial part of the ninth inning for the Braves, down to their last out, with Mangum reaching first on a single, Jeremy Eierman (Missouri State) kept the inning alive, knocking a single to advance Mangum to third.
With Breaux due up, the Braves had positioned themselves to put pressure on the infield by way of the running game. First baseman Gavin Sheets (Wake Forest), bobbled a grounder off the bat of speedy Breaux, letting the tying run score.
Mangum was in the middle of the deciding run as well, knocking the go-ahead run in by way of a single to score Mendoza.
Mangum and Mendoza went 2 for 5 and 2 for 4 on the night respectively, with each scoring a run.
Jon Escobar (Holy Cross) came in and struck out the side to close down the 10th and send the Braves home a game ahead of the Gatmen in a best-of-three series.
The Braves will return home for a 6 p.m. game Saturday, as Nick Sprengel (San Diego) and Bourne’s AJ Moore (Kennesaw State) are slated to face off.