Murf Gray lifts Gatemen to 8-5 victory over Whitecaps

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When Murf Gray came up to the plate in the eighth inning Saturday night, Gavin Black was locked in. The Wareham Gatemen had runners on first and second and, with two outs and a tied ballgame, they needed something to happen. Black knew he was going out for his second inning of relief and was hoping for some insurance.

He got it.

Gray sat on a ball below the zone before zeroing in on a pitch right down the middle, sending it sailing 420 feet in the air to left-center field, clanging on the metal bleachers of Spillane Field. The three-run homer, registering at 103 miles per hour off the bat, got out in a hurry — but everyone still knew it was gone before it left the park.

“If you were in this ballpark, you didn’t have to be watching it,” manager Ryan Smyth said. “You just heard it, and you knew that was going a long way.”

Gray made up for the ball’s quick exit by taking his time around the bases, giving the Gatemen dugout time to gather outside to celebrate with their third baseman. Colby Turner and Bobby Boser, the two base runners, met Gray at home plate before following him into the scrum, where he was met with back-slaps, cheers and high-fives. Black wasn’t one of the guys out in front congratulating Gray, but he was just as excited as anyone.

“I knew the game was over,” Black said. “That gave me all I needed to just go out there and get three outs and go home.”

Three batters later, Black strode off the mound as victory music began playing. Gray’s late-game heroics had locked up Wareham’s 8-5 victory over the Brewster Whitecaps, and Black simply shut the door. It was a full team effort, as is typical of the Gatemen, as they put up 11 hits en route to their 12th win of the summer. Four different pitchers came out and held down the fort on the mound, and the Gatemen defense pulled out multiple diving catches in crucial moments. It was also a full team effort to celebrate with Gray after his career night. During Gray’s postgame interview, Boser and Sam White, aided by about five other Gatemen, lumbered out of the dugout with a Gatorade cooler full of water. Gray was caught completely unaware by the deluge, scampering away as his teammates laughed and cheered. Gray was cold, but he never stopped smiling.

After all, he’d just hit his first Cape Cod Baseball League home run, and he wasn’t even really trying to.

“I was just thinking simple,” Gray said. “Do a team job, I was just thinking, ‘Be simple, do something cool for the team.’”

Simple has been the name of Gray’s game throughout the summer. He’s the one to reach base in the middle of an inning and drive in a go-ahead run, walk to load the bases in a key situation and make a couple stellar plays at third base. The impact of all of his efforts wouldn’t truly be known until the conclusion of the game, though, and so he has flown under the radar throughout the summer.

Even prior to his eighth-inning at-bat, he’d quietly singled and came around to score in the third inning.

“He’s the guy that is, situationally hitting, probably one of the best on the team,” Smyth said. “He was hitting the ball hard all day, so he just got a pitch that he could drive. And obviously that was a big-time hit for us right when we needed it.”

Gray has struggled at the plate in Wareham’s last few days, going 1-for-12 with two walks in the last three games he’s played in. And yet, going into Saturday’s game, he still elected not to change anything big. The mindset and the approach at the plate was all the same: keep it simple. And it was the simplest of changes that yielded the greatest result: Gray loosened his grip on the bat.

Thanks to that minor change, the right mentality and the perfect pitch, the Gatemen were able to close out a fog-filled Saturday night with a victory. It was one of their most tightly contested wins of the season, setting them up with all the energy and confidence they could possibly want and showing what’s possible when a team believes in each other.

“This year has been insane,” Black said. “The team camaraderie is amazing. The guys love being with each other, love being around each other every day and playing, and I think that’s why we’re having so much success.”

After all, what better way is there to say “I love you” than dumping a cooler of water over someone’s head?

Gavin Black
Gavin Black pitches in Wareham's 8-5 win over the Brewster Whitecaps, July 6 2024, at Spillane Field. Photo by Keegan Maloney.

Top photo credit: Murf Gray "guards the gate" as he rounds third base after hitting a home run in Wareham's 8-5 win over the Brewster Whitecaps, July 6, 2024, at Spillane Field. Photo by Keegan Maloney.