By: Caden Charpentier – Media Operations Coordinator
A heroic comeback at Cardines Field fell short as the Newport Gulls (7-6) dropped Wednesday’s game to the Sanford Mainers (5-9) by a score of 6-4.
It was a pitcher’s duel for most of the game, with Newport’s Jake Garland leading the way for the Gulls, making his second start. Garland did not allow a single hit until the fifth inning, striking out 10 batters, and walking only one in 7.1 innings of work. It was the longest a starting pitcher for Newport has gone in a game so far this season. His 10 strikeouts put Garland tied for second on the team with 14 strikeouts in 12.1 innings.
Garland was relieved by the Washington University right-hander Jack Bunnell in the eighth inning. It was Bunnell’s second straight appearance at Cardines Field, going 1.2 innings, and striking out four of the six batters that he faced. Bunnell’s four strikeouts bring the total for Newport on the night to 14, and 139 on the season which is good for the third-most punchouts in the entire NECBL three weeks into the season.
There was not much noise on the offensive side of things for the Gulls until the eighth inning when Newport got itself out of its offensive slump. Following a four-run top of the inning for the Mainers, the Gulls knew they had to respond in order to snap the losing streak. Back-to-back singles from Cam Clayton and Slate Alford on top of a wild pitch put the Gulls on the board for the first time in the contest.
With two men on with just one out, Mississippi State’s Colton Ledbetter stepped up to the plate. Back-to-back wild pitches allowed Clayton score and cut the lead to four runs. Ledbetter then crushed a no-doubt two-run home run over the centerfield wall completely turning the game on its head. It was Ledbetter’s second hit of the night to lead the team and fourth home run of the season. The former Samford outfielder’s homer on Wednesday night puts him alone in second place in the NECBL in home runs.
Newport has a chance to right the ship once again back at home at Cardines Field against the Keene Swamp Bats (7-6) on Friday night at 6:35 pm for Red Sox Foundation 20th Anniversary Night. Despite the loss, the Gulls still remain first in the Coastal Division, ahead of their rivals the Mystic, and Martha’s Vineyard by a half game. After Keene, Newport faces pivotal divisional matchups against the Sharks and Schooner over the weekend.