story by Steve McCarthy
June 13, 2010
WAREHAM – University of Connecticut teammates Matt Barnes and George Springer lifted the Wareham Gatemen to a 5-2 win over the Cotuit Kettleers Sunday night in the opening game of the 2010 Cape Cod Baseball League season at Spillane Field in Wareham.
The pair of Cotuit runs charged to hard-throwing right-handed pitcher Barnes came on just two hits through six and two-thirds innings. Right fielder Springer broke open a 3-2 game in the eighth inning with a two-run home run off Cotuit starter Nick Tropeano (Stony Brook).
“My main goal was to go out there and give the team a chance to win and I think I did that,” Barnes said.
Barnes and Springer are both second-year Gatemen as well as invites to the Team USA tryouts to be held in July.
“I think coming back (for a second year) helped me in terms of handling the pressure and knowing what I have to do to get outs,” Barnes said.
Barnes (1-0), whose fastball was clocked at 95 miles per hour according to scouts behind the backstop, said he is accustomed to striking out more than just one batter but could care less how the outs came. Six of his first seven outs were harmless ground balls that stayed in the infield. Barnes faced the minimum through the first six innings.
Reliever Keith Bilodeau (Maine) finished the game for Barnes as the pair combined for a four-hitter. Bilodeau earned the save (1), striking out three in two and one-third.
Wareham’s scoring was split between the fourth and eighth innings as Tropeano (0-1) was effective in an outing of seven and two-thirds innings. Tropeano struck out eight, walked three and scattered six hits. Two of the walks came back to haunt him.
“I felt like I was spotting up my fastball well and my change-up was good,” Tropeano said. “I just left a few pitches up towards the end and that was it.”
Cotuit manager Mike Roberts praised Tropeano’s mound presence and pitching knowledge.
“It will be a pleasure to put that young man out there every sixth day,” Roberts said.
Springer drew a walk to lead off the fourth inning and moved over to third on a hit-and-run executed by Jerrud Sabourin (Indiana). Tyler Bream (Liberty) drove Springer in with an RBI-double to the left field corner. Nico Rosthenhausler (Oklahoma State) plated Bream and Sabourin with a line drive base hit up the middle.
Tropeano bounced back to cruise through three one-two-three innings before walking Jonathan Smith (Tenn.Wesleyan) with two outs in the eighth to bring up Springer. Springer made Tropeano pay for a change-up left up in the strike zone.
“I was just trying to hold them and give my team a chance to come back,” Tropeano said.
Wareham catcher Chris Walker (Fordham) followed Springer’s home run with a base hit to chase Tropeano from the game but was gunned down on a steal attempt to end the inning. Walker was Wareham’s only batter with multiple hits as he also singled in his first at-bat. Levi Hyams (Georgia) singled twice for Cotuit.
Cotuit came alive in the seventh inning to make it a one-run game. Leadoff hitter Chad Wright (Kentucky) walked and advanced to third as Zach Cone (Georgia) was hit by pitch and C.J. Cron (Utah) grounded into a double play. Paul Hoilman (East Tennessee) laced a single down the left field line to score Wright.
The Kettleers loaded the bases and Bilodeau fanned Taylor Black (Kentucky) for the would-be third out, but the pitch in the dirt got past Walker, allowing Black to reach first safely and Kevin Patterson (Auburn) to trot home from third.
The 2009 Kettleers led the Cape League in stolen bases but were unsuccessful in three attempts Sunday.
“I didn’t prepare our club very well on the base stealing side,” Roberts said. “I can’t remember an opening day when we didn’t steal a base.”
Neither team committed an error defensively.
The Kettleers will travel to Falmouth’s Guv Fuller Field on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. game against the Commodores.