By Michael McCleary
Brendan Nail squats down on the mound, his back turned to the plate, and gazes at the ground as Brewster?s Martin Costes around the bases. With two outs, Nail watched as Costes took his strides around the bases, capturing the momentum for the Whitecaps. Having just let up two runs in the inning to tie the game up, Nail couldn?t look as the feelings of sorrow started to fill the hearts of the Y-D faithful.
?It just sunk in,? Nail said, glossy-eyed with emotion. ?It hurts.?
The Red Sox couldn?t hold on in an 8-7 extra-innings loss to Brewster at ?Red? Wilson field. In losing, the Red Sox are eliminated from the playoffs, falling short of its elusive fourth-straight title. In what was a back and forth game for all ten innings, with each team swinging the momentum back in forth, the Whitecaps came out on top.
?This is the game you want to want to be a part of,? Nail said of the game?s tension. ?It goes by fast.?
Y-D had not been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs since 2013, when it was swept by Chatham. The team played hard throughout the game, as they did the entire season, but it was a disappointing end to a very strong season.
The narrative of the season didn?t allow the abrupt ending to be smooth. Throughout the season, dozens of comments with the tagline ?the quest for four? or ?four-peat? could be heard. After three straight titles and in the winning environment the Red Sox offer, the Y-D fan base expected nothing less than a historic season.
Manager Scott Pickler has managed the club for twenty full seasons now. He?s seen the first-round sweeps as well as the hoist of the championship trophies. Pickler has won many titles in his tenure with the Red Sox, so going out early always leaves a mark.
?Whenever it ends, you?re never ready for it to end,? Pickler said. ?You?re around these kids all year, they?re great kids. It hurts anytime you go out.?
The Red Sox got off to a rough start to the game. Before the first pitch was even thrown, Tim Brennan, the game?s probable pitcher was scratched from the start.? Karl Kauffmann instead got the ball after pitching three innings of one hit baseball just a few days earlier in game one against the Whitecaps.
He started off by giving the Red Sox two scoreless innings but had to work his way out of a few jams to break free of the innings. He had a difficulty finding the strike zone and allowed three free bases in the first two innings.
In the third inning, after Kauffmann was replaced and with the game knotted at one, Nico Hoerner and Alfonso Rivas shared a laugh after Rivas held Brewster?s Michael Gasper on third base while putting out the runner at first on a grounder right to Rivas. Hoerner proceeded to shuffle side to side, imitating Gasper?s indecisiveness. The very next batter, Kyle Datres roped a double into the outfield that scored two runs and put Brewster ahead. The two Whitecaps who scored jumped past each other in celebration as Tommy Henry evaded them on his pursuit back to the mound. On that play, Brewster was granted the last laugh.
Despite the early faltering, the Red Sox came back on multiple occasions to make the game close including a two-run comeback in the ninth to once again tie the game. The crowd exploded as Carlos Cortes returned to the plate for a second chance at a walk off win. Pickler, who said this team was ?the best team in the eighth or ninth inning? out of all the teams he?s coached was proud of the way his team fought. Carlos grounded out foreshadowing the disappointment soon.
After working two outs, closer Riley McCauley, who the Red Sox put all its trust in to carry them to victory, gave up two straight hits to let up the game?s decisive run. It was a tough end to a great season for McCauley who, like the Red Sox, knew he had more to give.
?It?s a little upsetting, we?re better than that team,? McCauley said. ?We wanted to go for the four-peat, you built relationships for these guys. It?s tough.?