Whitecaps fall in emotional home opener

BREWSTER — Brewster raised its 2017 championship flag behind the first-base dugout Thursday.

They’ll wait a little longer before they fly it at full staff.

Fans filed into Stony Brook Field to familiar smell of burgers and hot dogs on the grill and sound of children playing on the playground or the adjacent basketball court behind the backstop.

But before the game, the team paid tribute to Barry Souder, the team’s co-founder, who died June 7 at age 71. The Whitecaps board of directors lined up on the third-base line with the players and coaches as public-address announcer Jim Nowak read a message and then held a 7-second moment of silence.

“Without Barry’s initiative, energy and leadership we wouldn’t have had a Cape League team in Brewster today,” Novak said. “He’ll be missed by everybody in the Whitecaps family.”

Then it was time for baseball.

“Whitecaps, please take the field,” Novak said as fans applauded.

Though Thursday celebrated baseball’s return to Brewster for the first time since winning the title, Chatham dominated with an 8-0 shutout victory.

The Anglers (1-1-1) scored twice in the first inning, before Chatham’s Spencer Torkelson (Arizona State) hit a three-run opposite-field home run over the fence in right-center field to put the Anglers up 5-0 in the fifth.

Cody Bradford (Baylor), the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, struck out six and allowed just two hits in four innings. Hunter Gaddis (Georgia State) pitched the next four, also giving up two hits.

Bradford, a southpaw, struck out the side in the fourth, helping clinch the team’s first win under rookie manager Tom Holliday.

“I don’t have any feeling about that,” Holliday said shrugging off the accolade. “I feel better because we played better today than yesterday and we’re going to play better tomorrow.”

Friends Jack Comly and Bob Van Malderghem set up their chairs on the hill in a small clearing behind the Whitecaps dugout, same as they’ve done since 2009.

“We’re good buddies, and we met up here,” Comly said.

As the two were talking, a splintered end of a bat came flying toward the Whitecaps dugout.

“That’s probably the first time I’ve seen that,” Van Malderghem said.

Meanwhile, Karney and Diana Ovian have been attending games since the mid 1990s. They said they anxiously await the home opener every year.

“It’s exciting baseball,” said Karney, who was wearing a 2017 championship hat he said he’ll wear all season. “It brings people together.”

Arizona State’s Hunter Bishop, one of Brewster’s only returning players, took over in center field in the seventh inning. When he batted in the seventh inning, Novak enthusiastically announced, “He’s back!” as Bishop Walked to the plate.

Bishop grounded into a fielder’s choice, but he said just coming to the ballpark Thursday brought back great memories.

“We were walking down,” Bishop said, “and I remember saying, ‘The last time we were on this field was when we were celebrating.”

Like the rest of the Whitecaps, they’re hoping better days are ahead as the team fell to 0-2.