(Photos Courtesy of Zach Foley)
By Kieran Wilson
The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox appeared to be finished after a brutal, 18-7 beatdown in the first game of the Eastern Divisional playoffs. But they battled back in game two to force a decisive game three on Sunday. They didn’t waste their second chance.
Behind masterful pitching, Y-D came back to defeat Brewster and advance to the Eastern Divison Finals. Jackson Kent, Will Armbruester, and Landon Beidelschies combined to limit the Whitecaps to just three runs on six hits while striking out nine. They kept Brewster at bay long enough for the Y-D offense to scrounge up four runs on just two hits and twelve walks, and Theo Hardy played hero with a go-ahead, solo home run in the eighth that put the Red Sox ahead for good.
Y-D struck first in the opening inning thanks largely to a lack of command. from Brewster’s starting pitcher. Ashe Ammerlaan hit Y-D’s first batter, Skylar King, and then threw a wild pitch that allowed him to advance to second. With one out, Hunter Hines was intentionally walked, and another wild pitch moved both runners up a base and brought Ryan Stafford to the plate. He hit a fly ball to right field that was deep enough for King to score from third and give Y-D an early 1-0 lead.
Red Sox starter, Jackson Kent, retired the first five batters of the game easily before Brock Tibbitts batted in the bottom of the second. He smashed the first pitch he saw deep over the fence in left field to even the score at one apiece.
Brewster threatened to score again in the fourth after they started the inning with a single and a walk. Kent retired the third batter of the inning on a groundout that both runners advanced on. Catcher Jared Jones made the score 2-1 Whitecaps after he hit a sharp grounder to Zander Darby at the hot corner that drove in a run.
The Whitecap offense had things working again in the fifth after a leadoff walk, a hit-by-pitch, and then a double steal to put both runners in scoring position with just one out. Second baseman, Demitri Diamont lifted a fly ball to medium-center field that Skylar King caught and threw home. The throw was on-line but not strong enough to nab the runner at the plate, making the score 3-1 Whitecaps.
Kent surrendered a two-out walk and his day was done. He pitched admirably, throwing 4.2 innings of three-hit, three-run ball with four strikeouts. Arizona St. Sun Devil, Will Armbruester, came on to relieve him and put an end to the fifth inning after inducing a weak comebacker. In total, Armbruester completely silenced the Whitecaps over 2.1 innings of work, giving up no runs and striking out two.
Looking to even the score for Y-D in the bottom of the fifth, King worked a walk and one batter later, Hines was intentionally walked for the second time, which ended the day for Brewster’s Ammerlaan. He went 4.1 innings walking an astonishing nine batters, but miraculously didn’t give up a single hit.
Jacob Riordan relieved him, and Stafford was the first Red Sox hitter to face him. On a 2-2 count, the Red Sox successfully completed a double steal of their own. Stafford worked a walk to load the bases for Dub Gleed who laced a pitch back up the middle that ricocheted off the pitcher. Brewster got an out at second off of the carom, but King scored to bring the Red Sox within one. Darby also walked to load up the bases again, this time for Ryan Jackson. He drew yet another walk for Y-D, which drove in a run and tied the game.
Both offenses went quiet until the bottom of the eighth inning. Up until that point, Y-D’s only hit was still just King’s bunt, but the Red Sox’s first hit out of the infield would be a game-changing one. Theo Hardy turned on a 1-0 pitch, droving it over the fence and into the trees in center field. It was Hardy’s first homer of the summer and it put the Red Sox up by one going into the ninth.
Landon Beidelschies had worked a scoreless eighth, and he was back out there to close it for Y-D in the ninth. He made quick work of three Brewster batters to send Y-D and its fans home happy, with a 4-3 victory.
After the game, manager Scott Pickler remarked, “You don’t win a lot of games with two hits.” He’s completely correct, and it took a valiant effort from the pitching staff to keep the offense in the game. He praised all of his pitchers, especially Beidelschies and Armbruester for keeping the game at a 3-3 tie. Of Theo Hardy’s game-winning homer, Pickler said, “I told him to stand up tall instead of getting down and so low so he can get his hands out front…He’s been working every day he comes in here, on changing his stance and changing his approach. It paid off right there.”
Y-D’s playoff run is not finished yet, as they will take on rival Orleans on Monday in game one of the Eastern Division Finals at 4:00 PM at “Red” Wilson Field.