Aaron Blair struck out 10 and allowed just two hits over seven scoreless innings, helping Y-D beat Wareham 5-1.
By: Andrew Constant / @andrew_constant
There will be a winner-take-all Game 3 of the Cape Cod Baseball League Championship Series Friday at Red Wilson Field in South Yarmouth, after the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox beat Wareham 5-1 Thursday evening.
Y-D ace Aaron Blair pitched his best game of the summer, tossing 125 pitches over seven dominant innings, all while striking out 10 and allowing just two hits. Blair picked up his ninth victory of the season, putting the team on his back and pushing the championship series to a deciding Game 3.
The Red Sox got on the board first in the top of the second when Alex Blandino doubled home Zak Blair, who had singled to begin the frame. The Y-D third baseman has been absolutely on fire in the postseason, staying red-hot after clubbing two home runs in the deciding game against Orleans earlier in the week.
The score remained the same until the fifth, when Y-D added a second run to their lead. Sean Dwyer, playing first base in the absence of incumbent Sam Travis, who was injured in the first game of the series, led off the inning with a single to right. Sean McHugh followed with a single down the left field line, putting two runners on with nobody out and leadoff hitter Morgan Mickan stepping to the plate. Mickan dropped down a perfect sacrifice bunt, moving both runners up a base and Carlos Asuaje brought Dwyer home with a hard ground ball to first.
Aaron Blair held the Gatemen in check over the middle innings, working around a couple walks, and keeping their hitters off balance. He had complete command of all his pitches, throwing fastballs and off-speed pitches in any count. He came off the mound following the seventh inning, after getting Ryan Sullivan to fly out to left field with two runners on base.
In the following frame, the Red Sox put the game out of reach for good, getting creative in the process. Asuaje grounded a single through the right side to lead off the inning, chasing Wareham starter Barrett Astin. The Gatemen called on Nicholas Rumbelow to get them through the frame unscathed, but he was unsuccessful in his efforts Robert Pehl greeted Rumbelow with a ringing double into the left field corner, moving Asuaje to third. Wareham intentionally walked Zak Blair to load the bases and the strategy backfired when Rumbelow hit Blandino with a pitch, pushing the lead to 3-0.
After Danny Diekroger grounded into a fielder’s choice that forced pinch-runner Robby Campbell out at home, Y-D manager Scott Pickler rolled the dice with a suicide squeeze play. Justin Shafer got the bunt down with Zak Blair charging towards the dish, and when Rumbelow picked the ball up and threw it to first, it got away, allowing Blandino to come all the way around from second, giving the Red Sox a 5-0 advantage.
Ricky Knapp replaced Aaron Blair on the mound in the eighth and struggled out of the gate. Kyle Schwarber singled leading off and moved to second when Tyler Horan added a single of his own. Daniel Palka loaded the bases with the third hit of the inning, but Mott Hyde grounded into a fielder’s choice at first. Schwarber came across the plate, but Knapp didn’t let the lead get away, as he got Ty Ross to pop up to second and Dustin DeMuth to strike out, ending the inning.
The right-hander from Florida Gulf Coast University put two runners on in the ninth inning, but didn’t allow another run, closing out a convincing victory for the Red Sox.
Game 3 will be played Friday afternoon at 4 p.m. at Red Wilson Field in South Yarmouth. A starting pitcher for Y-D is yet to be determined. The team will be looking for their fourth Cape League title since 2004.