Firebirds Battle, Settle For Tie In Cotuit

By Greg Joyce

In a tough, grind it out game in Cotuit, the Orleans Firebirds were forced to settle for a tie after nine innings when the game was called due to darkness. The Firebirds had three leads and trailed once, but ended with a tie, getting an always-important point on the road.

Orleans jumped ahead 1-0 in the first inning on the strength of three singles by Anthony Gomez (Vanderbilt), Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State), and Steve Selsky (Arizona), as Selsky drove in Gomez to take the early lead.

But the Kettleers came back in the second off Tyler Johnson (Stony Brook), as an error, two singles, and a sac-fly led to an unearned run to make it 1-1.

They put up another run in the next inning, this one earned, and were threatening for more with the bases loaded and only one out. But Tyler Gebler (Rutgers) came in to shut down the rally, striking out the first batter he faced and getting the next to fly out to right field.

With the momentum now on their side, the Firebirds took the lead again in the top of the fourth. Selsky led off the inning with a double. After Matt Koch (Loyola Marymount) reached base, Matt Duffy (Long Beach State) came through with a double, scoring both Selsky and Koch.

A batter later, Matt Lowenstein (Loyola Marymount) walked, and Andrew Aplin (Arizona State) singled to load the bases with one out. The next batter was Gomez, who reached on a fielder’s choice but Duffy was thrown out at home on the force. But Jayce Boyd (Florida State) followed with a base on balls, bringing home Lowenstein to make it 4-2.

The Kettleers, though, came back in the bottom of the inning to tie the game off of two doubles and two sac-bunts off Gebler.

Selsky led off the fifth inning with another double, his second of the game. He moved over to second on a sac-bunt by Koch. With two outs, Maxx Tissenbaum (Stony Brook) came up and knocked in Selsky on a single to right field.

But once again, the Kettleers would manage one more push to tie the game in the eighth inning off Matt Boyd (Oregon State), thanks to two balks. Kevin Mager (Rollins) reached first on a fielder’s choice, before moving to second and third on the two balks by Boyd. Boyd seemed to take fault for the second balk, but he was not so sure about the first one. Field manager Kelly Nicholson went out to the umpire for an explanation.

“I just asked him what he saw, and he said he saw Boyd step towards home plate, and if that’s what he saw, that’s what he saw,” Nicholson said. “You can’t argue with that. Our thing is we teach our guys, ‘Hey, let’s handle some adversity.’ We’re gonna get some bad calls that we don’t think are correct like that balk call we did not think was a balk. But the most important thing was how we handled the next pitch.

“And then we proceeded to balk again (laughing). But I thought Matt Boyd threw the ball really well tonight.”

Mager would come home a batter later to score the tying run. But any further damage was prevented by Trevor Gott (Kentucky), who pitched the last inning and a third, allowing no hits and no runs, looking dominant as always.

“T-Gott came in and did a nice job,” Nicholson said.

The Firebirds threatened in the ninth with back-to-back singles by Selsky and Koch, but one last rally was not in the cards, as Tissenbaum struck out to end the inning.

Selsky finished the game with four hits, six total bases, two runs scored, and a RBI, arguably his best game of the season.

Also standing out was Kenny Long (Illinois State), who pitched 1.2 relief innings of hitless baseball for the Firebirds.

Orleans finished with five runs on 11 hits, and Nicholson was happy with the offensive production.

“Absolutely,” he said. “Normally, you score five runs [and you win]. I don’t think anyone in this league has a 5.00 ERA. Normally you’re gonna come out on top. It was a good game. It probably deserved to end in a tie.”

Also in relief, Kenny Long (Illinois State) pitched 1.2 innings of hitless baseball for the Firebirds.

“We got down to Cotuit and came away with a point, so it’s better than walking out of here with nothing,” Nicholson said. “We’re not happy about not winning, but we’re definitely happy about not losing. That game could have gone either way. We pitched out of some jams; they pitched out of some jams. I give our guys credit for battling on the road like they did.

“Points in the Cape Cod League are tough to come by. We’ll take them when we can get them.”

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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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