WAREHAM — Austin Shenton batted .349 with nine doubles, four home runs and 30 RBIs in the regular season, before the Wareham Gatemen slugger somehow took his game to the next level in the playoffs. He continued to punish pitchers in the first game of the Cape League championship series.
With the bases loaded in the fifth inning of a scoreless game, he stroked a ball to the wall in right field, just out of reach of a lunging Spencer Torkelson, who crashed into the wall before relaying the ball back in to the second baseman after three runs had already scored.
Shenton’s double gave Wareham a 3-0 lead, which the Gatemen extended for a 5-3 win against the Chatham Anglers on Saturday at Spillane Field. The Anglers will host the second game of the best-of-three series at 7 p.m. on Sunday at Veterans Field.
Shenton, who went 1-for-4 on Saturday, has hits in all five playoff games, including three home runs. In the past eight games, Shenton has knocked in 16 runs.
One day after Tristin English pitched 8 2/3 innings in a 3-2 win against the Brewster Whitecaps to clinch the East Division title, he blasted a pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth to pull the Anglers within two runs. But Chatham could not overcome the four-run deficit entering the final inning to complete the comeback.
The Gatemen followed up Shenton’s base-knock in the fifth inning with two runs in the seventh inning. Jakob Goldfarb (Oregon) roped a stand-up triple down the right-field line to score Isaac Collins (Creighton) from first base. Two batters later, Jeremy Ydens (UCLA) knocked in Goldfarb with a sacrifice fly.
The Chatham Anglers had ample chances to score, especially early in the game. In the second, third, fourth and fifth innings, they had a runner on second base, but never managed to get a runner across home plate in any of those innings.
Wareham starting pitcher Ryan Garcia consistently allowed runners on base, but didn’t give up a run in five shutout innings with seven strikeouts. After inducing a groundout for the final out of the fifth inning to strand Torkelson on second base, manager Don Sneddon opted for the bullpen.
The Anglers finally scored in the top of the seventh inning when Torkelson clanked a ball off the top of the bleachers behind the left-field fence for a solo home run. He has three home runs in the playoffs.