Fireworks In Chatham

By Greg Joyce

It was July 4 on Cape Cod, and in Chatham, there were plenty of fireworks. Luckily for Orleans, all of them came off the bats of the Firebirds and none from the Anglers. Monday night was another offensive outburst, this one finishing 12-0, as the Firebirds swept their home and home series with the Anglers.

Through the first three innings of the game, Orleans was held hitless. But they needed just one hit in the fourth inning to get the offense rolling for the rest of the game. That spark came from Matt Koch (Loyola Marymount), who put a pitch over the 357-marker in right field for his first home run of the season. The opposite field bomb put the Firebirds up 1-0, and they never look backed after that.

Little did they know, though, that one run would have been enough to win the game, thanks to the outstanding starting performance by Mike Hauschild (Dayton). In his first start of the summer, Hauschild went six shutout innings, allowing three hits, striking out eight and walking none. The righty had four 1-2-3 innings, and he retired the last ten batters he faced in order. Additionally, Hauschild had at least one strikeout in each of the six innings he pitched.

“Haus did a nice job,” field manager Kelly Nicholson said. “He was throwing the ball well, and he was real efficient. He was around the zone, and throws that slider and changeup. He was good tonight, he was really good.”

Before Hauschild exited, his teammates added some more run support in the fifth and sixth innings.

In the fifth, Tarran Senay (NC State) led off with a walk, his first of three times on the base paths on the night. Jake Stewart (Stanford) followed with a double to the gap in right field, which brought up his fellow outfielder, Andrew Aplin (Arizona State). Aplin hit a pitch right back up the middle, scoring both Senay and Stewart to make it 3-0.

More damage was done in the next inning, when Orleans put up a four-spot on the scoreboard. Maxx Tissenbaum (Stony Brook) reached on a walk and Reed Gragnani (Virginia) reached on a single, putting two on with one out. Senay loaded the bases with a single up the middle. After Stewart knocked in Tissenbaum on a ground out, it was time for the Firebirds to continue their hot hitting with two outs. The Anglers intentionally walked Aplin to bring up Jayce Boyd (Florida State), but that move would come back to hurt them a few pitches later. Boyd slapped a bases-clearing double to the gap in right field to increase the lead to 7-0.

Kenny Long (Illinois State) relieved Hauschild, and was equally impressive in his two innings of work. Long didn’t fool around, retiring all six batters he faced and struck out four in the process. By the end of his night after the eighth inning, he and Hauschild had combined to set down 16 straight Anglers.

But that didn’t stop the Firebirds from scoring, as they kept up their intensity all night, and scored five more runs in the eighth. Once again, Senay led off the inning with a base on balls. Stewart reached base on a fielding error by the shortstop, which moved Senay over to third. For the second time in the game, Aplin followed with a RBI single, his third RBI of the night. Boyd kept the rally going with a walk, before Steve Selsky (Arizona) hit a single back through the middle to score Stewart.

That was followed by a pitching change by Chatham, but not even that could cool off the Firebird bats. Koch came through again and singled to right to bring in a run. The Anglers finally recorded an out on a fielder’s choice by Anthony Gomez (Vanderbilt), bur that brought home Boyd as the 11th run.

It looked like the Anglers might finally get out of the inning when Tissenbaum grounded a pitch to the right side, but the second baseman made a poor throw to the shortstop at second, and everyone was safe. Selsky scored on the play for the final run of the night for Orleans.

“We were up seven and then we rolled a five in the eighth and we had good at bats throughout the night, I thought,” Nicholson said. “I don’t think anybody gave up an at bat tonight, they competed right down to their final at bat. It was really great to see. I was really, really pleased.”

Nick Mutz (Western Oklahoma) pitched a scoreless ninth for the Firebirds to close out the win. The work was Mutz’s fourth straight scoreless appearance, and the hard-throwing righty now sports an ERA of 0.96 over 9.1 innings pitched.

Nicholson noted how the offensive outburst allowed the pitchers to pitch comfortably, a big key for their success.

“When we’re scoring that many runs, it helps our pitchers and helps our defense,” he said.

Everyone in the starting lineup scored a run except for Gomez, but his presence was still felt in the game.

“It’s nice to see guys one through nine contributing,” Nicholson said. “I think you’re gonna see us with a little more of a set lineup and guys in the right positions. Anthony Gomez, even though he just got here and was inserted in the lineup yesterday, he’s made a big difference, just solidifying that position. The most important thing for us right now is to get guys in their roles. I think those are kind of becoming evident and now we just have to go with it and see what happens.”

So far, so good.

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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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