In the 2014 NECBL season opener, the Newport Gulls put forth a hard-fought effort against the Ocean State Waves at Old Mountain Field, however, in front of 500 fans at Old Mountain Field, the Gulls garnered three runs on five hits, falling to the Waves, 6-3.
Newport had many opportunities throughout the game in which they failed to drive home runners on base. Alongside the five hits, the Gulls walked seven times, and several more batters reached on errors.
Getting the start for the Gulls was southpaw Chandler Hawkins. A junior from Arkansas State University, Hawkins allowed four runs on six hits, striking out three batters in four-plus innings of work.
Offensively, the Gulls were the first to score, driving in two runs in the top of the first inning. With two outs in the first inning, Tanner Donnels collected the first hit of the season, notching a single off of Waves starter Patrick Peterson that started the rally. Eventually, Gulls catcher P.J. Jones drove in Donnels with a bases-loaded walk, putting the Gulls on the board first. In the following at-bat, Ryan Tufts reached on an error by Waves second baseman Brandon Bingel, enabling Tyler Green to score from third, and the Gulls took a 2-0 lead.
However, the two runs scored by the Gulls were quickly countered by the Waves in the bottom half of the first. Drew Ferguson lined an RBI double to left field, getting the offensive juices flowing for the Waves. Robby Rinn was able to drive in Ferguson with two outs in the inning by way of an RBI single, tying the score at 2-2.
In the fourth inning, Shea Donlin (after reaching on an error by shortstop Mitchell Piatnik) scored on an RBI groundout by former Wave Reed Gamache, giving the Gulls a 3-2 lead. The Gulls also loaded the bases in the fifth inning, but the eventual winning pitcher (Nathan Bates) was able to work out of the jam, keeping the Gulls lead intact at 3-2.
The turning point of the game, however, occurred when the Waves scored twice in the fifth inning. With reliever Eric Stone entering the game for the Gulls, outfielder Ryan Blanton scored on a wild pitch, tying the score at 3-3. Two batters later, Rinn drove in Andre Ramirez for his second RBI of the game, enabling the Waves to take a 4-3 lead over the Gulls. Both runs were charged to the starter, Hawkins, as Stone, back for a second season with the Gulls, allowed the inherited runners to score.
Despite a solid long relief performance by Stone, the Waves were able to score two times in the bottom of the seventh inning. Buck McCarthy and Bingel each had RBIs, putting the Waves ahead, 6-3. Before exiting the game, Stone had allowed just three hits in two innings of work, striking out one hitter.
However, the relief pitching of Marc Huberman and Mason Richardson kept the Gulls alive in the later innings. Both pitchers combined to strike out three hitters, allowing just one hit in two innings of work.
Although the Gulls lost their season opener, they will return to Cardines Field on Friday night to face the Sanford Mainers in their home opener. Jack Patterson will get the start for the Gulls, while the Mainers counter with Aaron Howell. Gates open at 5 p.m., and first pitch is set for 6:35.
All Newport Gulls games will be broadcast live via audio and video at newportgulls.com, with select games appearing on local radio. Games also air on taped delay on NCTV-18 Newport County. Veteran play-by-play broadcaster Nick Lima and the Gulls broadcast team will have the call with the pregame show kicking off at 6:05 p.m. Friday.
For more information about the Newport Gulls, visit facebook.com/newportgulls, follow the Gulls on Twitter @NewportGulls or visit www.newportgulls.com.