Whitecaps come back from 6-run deficit, beat Commodores, 7-6

Daniel Cuvet’s day started at 4:30 a.m., 800 miles from Stony Brook Field.

After finishing his tenure with Team USA in Cary, North Carolina, late Thursday night, Cuvet slept just two hours before catching a bus, then a flight to Boston, and then another bus to Brewster.

The Miami third baseman was low on sleep, but he slotted into the three-hole and at third base in his first game back with the Whitecaps since June 24. Looking for his first hit of the game, Cuvet stepped to the plate as the tying run in the bottom of the seventh.

Prior to the half inning, as the sky grew darker in Brewster, the umpires and both managers conversed, discussing the possibility of ending the game early. The Whitecaps were trailing by two and the bottom of the seventh appeared to be their last hope.

Running on fumes, Cuvet crushed a 2-0 pitch to right-center field, clearing the fence and tying the game.

“I was gonna give a ‘whatever I got’ kind of mindset,” Cuvet said postgame. “And I just tried to give my best effort coming out here regarding the scenario and it worked out well.”

Brewster followed Cuvet’s blast by loading the bases, and Max Kaufer (South Carolina) broke the tie with a sacrifice fly to center field to score Andrew Fischer. Following the third out of the inning, the umpires and managers assembled again and, this time, called the game. Cuvet’s homer and Kaufer’s sacrifice fly helped Brewster (7-10) climb all the way back from a 6-0 deficit, defeating Falmouth (5-12), 7-6, in seven innings and ending its six-game home losing streak.

“It gives you some life back,” Brewster manager Jamie Shevchik said of the comeback postgame. “The offense is good enough that it doesn't matter what the score is, you have a shot.”

The game didn’t start as well for the Whitecaps as it ended. Jake Clemente (Florida) faced the minimum through three innings in his second start of the season, but the Whitecaps offense couldn’t get anything going.

Clemente then fell into trouble in the fourth and his defense behind him didn’t help his cause. A leadoff walk started the inning, but Brewster’s starter induced a perfectly placed ground ball to Ryder Helfrick (Arkansas) at first base.

Helfrick — making his first appearance at a position other than catcher this summer — fielded the ball and turned toward second to start what would have been a 3-6-3 double play. His throw sailed high over Kaeden Kent’s head at second. The error set up first and third with no outs for Falmouth.

Luke Gaffney (Purdue) followed with an RBI single, but Clemente forced another potential double-play ball. Drew Faurot (Florida State) flipped to Kent at second for one out but the ensuing throw to first missed the mark.

Falmouth went on to record four more hits and six runs in the inning, capitalizing on Brewster’s defensive mishaps while breaking through Clemente. The Commodores batted around in the frame, forcing Shevchik to relieve Clemente with Levi Huesman (Vanderbilt), who escaped a second-and-third jam with one pitch, inducing a lazy fly ball to left field.

Falmouth blanked the Whitecaps again in the fourth, but in the bottom of the fifth, Brewster strung together multiple singles and then hit a mammoth shot.

Kaufer, DeAmez Ross (UCF) and Kent each singled to start the inning, loading the bases with no outs. Falmouth paused the game for a mound visit as Helfrick stepped to the plate, looking to calm down Jack Seppings (Brown), who ran into his first real trouble of the game.

On the first pitch he saw, Helfrick hammered a hanging slider 373 feet into the left field trees. The grand slam cut the deficit from six to two instantly and forced the Commodores to the bullpen.

“I was just trying to get something up and elevated to the outfield to get the run home,” Helfrick said on the Whitecaps postgame show. “Get it moving, get something started.”

Brewster players celebrate at home plate following Ryder Helfrick's (Arkansas) grand slam. The grand slam propelled the Whitecaps to a comeback win. | Photo Credit: Avery Raimondo

Francis Ferguson (Eastern Nazarene) entered and retired the next three Whitecaps batters. Huesman, in his third inning of work, needed just four pitches to put Falmouth away and bring Brewster back to the plate. Faurot got on with a walk and Ross added a single but both were left on base.

In the sixth, both teams went silent, but after Falmouth went scoreless in the top of the seventh the contest appeared to be on its last legs and Brewster’s 2-3-4 hitters prepared for what could be their final at-bats with darkening skies.

Helfrick reached on a walk and brought Cuvet to the plate, whose two-run shot tied the game. Still, there were no men out. Fischer reached on a walk, Faurot singled and Dallas Macias (Oregon State) walked to load the bases.

Up to the plate came Kaufer. But he almost missed his opportunity to be a hero.

Postgame, Shevchik revealed that he nearly pinch-hit Nick Dumesnil (Cal Baptist) — one of Brewster’s hottest hitters, who had the day off. However, Shevchik and his staff quickly realized the opposition was Brett Antolick — a teammate of Kaufer’s at Texas A&M this past season.

With some knowledge of the opposing pitcher, Kaufer was given a full go. Though Kaufer hadn’t had much success versus Antolick in the past.

“Brett absolutely f–king owns me,” Kaufer said bluntly. “To be honest, me and him both know that.”

Kaufer fouled off two pitches and saw one ball go past him, setting up a 1-2 count. On the fourth pitch of the at-bat, Kaufer took what he described as an “extremely ugly swing.” But he lifted the ball deep enough into left field to score the go-ahead run.

“You gotta have some awareness in the game and understand the situation,” Kaufer said. “We got less than two outs, man on third, you got to do whatever you can to score him.”

Fischer glided home for what became the walk-off winner. But no one stormed out of the dugout and mobbed their teammates. Because it was just the seventh inning and according to Kaufer, he didn’t know his RBI had won the game.

Ross grounded out to end the frame and as Huesman began throwing warmup pitches to Kaufer, the umpires waved their hands in a crossing motion, signaling the end of the game. An anticlimactic celebration ensued as the Whitecaps secured their second win in a row — possibly their best of the season.

Photo credit: Avery Raimondo