Bats Stay Hot, Firebirds Win Again

By Greg Joyce

For the second night in a row, the Orleans Firebirds scored seven runs and again it was enough to get the win, this time a 7-3 win at Wareham on Saturday night. The Gatemen had shut out the Firebirds just two days before, but this time the Orleans bats were alive, and the team continued to manufacture runs. Jake Hernandez (USC) had two doubles and Steve Selsky (Arizona) stayed hot, anchoring the offense to another impressive outing.

The Firebirds got on the scoreboard early, striking for three runs in the second inning. Selsky led off with a single, followed by a bunt single by Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State), and a walk by Steve Nyisztor (Rutgers). Hernandez came up with the bases loaded and no outs, and delivered in the clutch. The freshman catcher shot a line drive to the gap in left-center field for a double, clearing the bases to put Orleans up 3-0.

“That bases loaded, base-clearing double was huge,” assistant coach Benny Craig said. “To do it early and to get that many runs with one swing, we’ve been looking for that. We needed that.”

In the next inning, the Firebirds played more small ball to produce more offense. Maxx Tissenbaum (Stony Brook) got the inning started with a double down the left field line.  Selsky followed by laying down a perfect bunt on the third base line, and beat the throw for another single. Next up was Waldrip, who hit a chopper to the second baseman who tagged out Selsky, but the throw to first was late and Waldrip was safe. Nyisztor then drove in Tissenbaum on a sac-bunt down the first base line.

Meanwhile, John Brebbia (Elon) was on the hill for Orleans, keeping the Gatemen off the scoreboard. In his first start of the season, Brebbia went 4.1 innings, allowing no earned runs, two hits, one walk, and struck out three.

In the top of the fifth, Selsky recorded his third hit of the night, a solo bomb into the left field bleachers to put the Firebird up 5-0.

Nick Mutz (Western Oklahoma), who picked up the win on the night, relieved Brebbia in the bottom of the fifth, and let up two runs, but got out of any further damage, keeping the score 5-2.

The Firebirds scored two more runs of their own in the next frame. After Rudy Flores (Florida International) was hit by a pitch, Hernandez hit another double to the left field gap, moving Flores to third. Tarran Senay (NC State) followed with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Flores and moving Hernandez to third. A batter later, Shon Roe (Loyola Marymount) hit a single up the middle to score Hernandez.

“Jake was awesome tonight,” Craig said. “And instead of taking the rest of the night off [after his first double], he turned in three more quality at bats and got another big double and ended up scoring. It wasn’t just Jake having good at bats, but other guys too. But Jake did have a heck of a night.”

The Gatemen added another run in the eighth, an unearned run off Matt Boyd (Oregon State), who pitched a solid 2.2 innings of relief. Mike Hauschild (Dayton) pitched the final inning for the Firebirds, striking out two in the process.

The Firebirds have now won two straight, and seem to be clicking on all cylinders as the improved hitting has joined the consistently solid pitching.

Craig, who serves as the team’s hitting coach, said the offensive outburst over the last two games was a matter of players getting more comfortable and adjusting to the league.

“I think the guys deserve a lot of the credit because it’s early and we’ve got really good, talented ballplayers out here who just need to get their feet wet more and more each day, get used to swinging wood, get used to seeing quality pitching, not that they don’t at their colleges, but day in and day out they’re going to see quality pitching,” Craig said. “So you gotta be patient with them. As far as approach, I think we’re just executing more. We’re bunting guys over, we’re having longer at bats, and when I say we I mean the players. Last night, guys who came off the bench contributed. So I think they’re just getting more comfortable.”

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About firebirdsccbl
The official blog of the Orleans Firebirds of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Check here for the latest news on the Firebirds, and be sure to follow us on Facebook (Orleans Firebirds), Twitter (@FirebirdsCCBL) and YouTube (OrleansFirebirds).

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