Wild Game Ends In Tie

By Greg Joyce

In a game that featured 25 hits, 14 runs, four errors, four lead changes, and two ties, it was only fitting that the Orleans Firebirds and Brewster Whitecaps ended in a 7-7 tie on Saturday night. It was a back and forth game of offensive displays, but neither team could hold on to a lead, and the each team had to settle for one point on the night, as the game was called after nine innings due to darkness.

On the mound for the Firebirds was Kurt Heyer (Arizona), and he let up an early lead to Brewster in the first inning on a RBI double that made it 1-0.

But the Firebirds would battle back for the first of three times on the night in the second inning. After the first two batters were set down in order, Matt Koch (Loyola Marymount) struck a pitch to dead center field for a standup double. Maxx Tissenbaum (Stony Brook) followed with a RBI single up the middle to score Koch. Tissenbaum crossed the plate himself when Reed Gragnani (Virginia) crushed a triple to the gap in left, over the outstretched gloves of both the left and center fielders.

Taking the mound in the bottom of the second with a 2-1 lead, Heyer was hit hard by the Whitecaps. Brewster slapped six straight singles off Heyer, which gave them a 5-2 lead by the end of the inning.

Once again though, the Firebirds were quick to erase the deficit. Jake Stewart (Stanford) started the third inning with a single to center field, and advanced to second on a heads up play when the center fielder couldn’t field the single cleanly. Andrew Aplin (Arizona State) advanced Stewart to third with a ground out to shortstop. Then, Jayce Boyd (Florida State) shot a fly ball to the warning track in right field for a double that brought home Stewart. Steve Selsky (Arizona) was the next batter up, and he reached first base on an error by the shortstop. After Rudy Flores (Florida International) struck out and Koch walked to load the bases, Tissenbaum came through again. The shortstop blasted a bases-clearing double to the fence in right field for a double, giving the Firebirds the lead again, this time 6-5.

“[Brewster] went up 5-2, and then we threw up a four spot, so our guys did a good job offensively today,” field manager Kelly Nicholson said.

Heyer held on to the lead for one inning on the mound, but lost it one last time in the fourth inning. He left the game in the fourth with two on and one out, giving way to Kyle Hunter (Dartmouth). The lefty struck out the two batters he faced, but one of the runners he inherited scored after stealing third base and a wild throw to third by Koch. The off-target throw allowed the runner to score on the play and tie the game at six.

The Firebirds had one more rally up their sleeve in the seventh inning. Aplin led off the inning with a single to right field. The next two batters were retired, before Aplin stole second and reached third on a wild pitch while Flores was at the plate. Flores ended up walking, bringing Koch up to bat. The veteran catcher for Orleans sliced a single down the right field line to bring home Aplin and give the Firebirds a 7-6 lead.

It was the third time in the game that the Firebirds had either come back from trailing or broken a tie.

“The nice thing was that we got down and those guys came back,” Nicholson said.

In the bottom of the seventh, Andrew Chafin (Kent State) got himself into a jam on the mound for Orleans, but he was helped out by his teammates. Chafin let up back-to-back singles to begin the inning, and the runners were moved over to second and third on a sacrifice bunt. Then, with the infield in, Chafin got the batter to ground to Gragnani at second, who held the runner at third and threw over to first. Flores got the throw from Gragnani at first for the out, and then made a heads up play to throw the ball to second, catching the Brewster runner too far off the bag for the 4-3-6 inning-ending double play.

But as was the case all game, Orleans’ lead was not safe for too long. In the eighth inning, the Whitecaps scored a run with two outs when JJ Altobelli (Oregon) hustled out an infield single to shortstop. The run came off Chafin, but was unearned as Tissenbaum had committed an error earlier in the inning.

With the game tied at seven in the ninth, the Firebirds went in order. But Trevor Gott (Kentucky) came out in the bottom half of the inning and shut down the Whitecaps in order on the strength of two strikeouts.

The umpires called the game after the ninth inning, as the sun was going down and darkness was setting in at Stony Brook Field in Brewster.

“We’re happy to get a point but I think it’s a game that had we done this or had we done that, that’s a game we should have won,” Nicholson said. “We’re happy to get a point, but we would have been happier with two.”

Tissenbaum finished the game with three hits and four RBI, breaking out of a slump that he had been in over the past few games.

“It’s always good to see guys that work hard get rewarded,” Nicholson said. “Tissenbaum’s a hard worker, and he did a nice job. It was great to see Tissy swing the bat well tonight.”

Also, in his first appearance of the summer for Orleans, Koch had two hits, scored two runs, and knocked in another out of the six-spot.

Aplin finished the night with two hits, a stolen base, and a run scored.

The Firebirds will try to replicate their offensive outburst but improve their pitching and defense in their important home-and-home series with Chatham starting tonight at Eldredge Park. Then on Monday, the Anglers will play host as Orleans will travel to Veterans Field.

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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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