Firebirds Drop a Close One at Home

By Greg Joyce

Sometimes, it takes just a few pitches to change the result of a baseball game, and on Tuesday night at Eldredge Park, that’s exactly what happened. The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox used two home runs to score five runs, enough to hand the Orleans Firebirds their fifth loss in six games, this one by a score of 5-4.

The Firebirds battled back from a 2-0 deficit to tie the game at two before the Red Sox made it 5-2. Orleans’ second attempt to tie the game came up a run short, and Y-D was just able to hang on.

In the top of the second inning, Matt Dunbar (College of Southern Nevada) walked and struck out the first two batters. Then, facing Matt Reynolds (Arkansas), Dunbar left a pitch up and Reynolds took advantage, sending the ball over the left field fence to make it 2-0 Red Sox.

Jake Stewart (Stanford) cut Y-D’s lead in half in the bottom of the inning, hitting a solo home run through the fog and into the Orleans bullpen in right field. The round tripper was Stewart’s first on the year.

An inning later, the Firebirds were able to push another run across the plate to tie the game at two. Matt Duffy (Long Beach State) led off the inning with an infield single off the pitcher’s feet. Maxx Tissenbaum (Stony Brook) followed Duffy and got hit by a pitch on his forearm, putting runners at first and second with no outs. That brought up Jayce Boyd (Florida State), who flew out to right field, but Duffy tagged and went to third on the play. Next up was Steve Selsky (Arizona), and he hit a line drive to left field to score Duffy.

After getting out of jams in the third and fourth innings, Dunbar was unable to get out of more trouble in the fifth. Once again, the lefty walked the first batter of the inning, and then let up a single to the last batter he would face in the game. Kyle Hunter (Dartmouth) came in to face James Ramsey (Florida State) with two on and no outs. On the fourth pitch of the at bat, Ramsey took Hunter deep to left field for a three-run home run to give Y-D the lead again, 5-2.

In the top of the seventh, Hunter got himself into a jam, putting runners on first and second with just one out. Field manager Kelly Nicholson went to the bullpen for his most reliable relief man in pressure situations, Mike Hauschild (Dayton), and the righty came through again. Hauschild struck out the two batters he faced in the inning to prevent any runs from scoring and keep it a 5-2 game. He finished with 2.2 scoreless innings of work, holding Y-D hitless.

“Great job,” pitching coach Jason Brown said of Hauschild’s performance. “And that’s what Haus has been doing for us since he got here. He goes out there very aggressive, throwing that sinking fastball up there and getting guys to swing early in the count. And then when he gets ahead, he’s got those pitches to put guys away: that split-fingered fastball, his changeup, his slider that he’s been working on. He throws strikes, pitches to contact, and works quick. He does all the things that you like seeing guys do coming out of the pen to be successful. He’s had a lot of success doing that for us.”

Hauschild’s performance seemed to give his teammates some momentum, as they got a rally going in the bottom half of the inning. Ronnie Shaeffer (UC Irvine) came up first and reached base on an error. Mike Marjama (Long Beach State) followed with a single to right field. On the next play, Marjama was thrown out at second on a fielder’s choice by Matt Lowenstein (Loyola Marymount). That left runners at the corners for Duffy, who lined a pitch into the gap in right field for a double, scoring Shaeffer and sending Lowenstein to third. Tissenbaum then recorded the next out on a ground out to third, but it allowed Lowenstein to score to make it 5-4.

But that was as close as the Firebirds would get, as they were retired in order in the last two innings by Y-D’s Kyle Hansen (St. John’s).

Dunbar’s final stat line was four plus innings pitched, six hits, four runs, two strikeouts and two walks. If Dunbar had a few of his pitches back, that line may look completely different.

“I think most baseball games, especially ones that you come out on the losing end of, you can look back and look at one or two or a handful of pitches that if you had back and could do differently, it would change the outcome of the game,” Brown said. “I think that was the case tonight, but it was less than a handful of pitches that changed the whole outcome.”

“I think even Matty would tell you that he didn’t have his best stuff, but he went out there and he competed, and kept us in it, gave us a chance to win, which is all you can ask for. You don’t have your best stuff every night. But he competed, he got after it, threw the ball pretty well, and made some pitches when he had to in key situations, made some pitches behind in the count to get guys out with runners on base. A couple [pitches], I’m sure he would love to have back. And if he could do them differently, he probably would. But that’s how it goes sometimes.”

Duffy finished the night reaching base three times on two hits, scoring a run and driving in another. The shortstop continues to impress, and leads the team in hitting out of the leadoff spot.

Although it was a frustrating loss, the Firebirds will have another opportunity to end their three-game skid tonight at home against Harwich. And the only thing they can do is keep playing, hoping they can turn their fortune the other way around.

“Keep plugging,” Brown said about what the team needs to do. “Playing almost every day is a bit of a grind. When you go out and take the field, they don’t all go your way. But if you have a good process, if you go about it the right way over the course of the summer, things tend to go your way more often. So really, it’s that process, the energy level, the quality of at bats, how guys are going about it on the mound, how guys are as a team getting after it. So that’s what you stress during times like this.

“And hey, next week or these next seven games, they could be totally different. Every day is a different day, and come out, have a good process, and we’re gonna be alright.”

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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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