Firebirds Overcome Tough Start To Beat Harwich

By Greg Joyce

If you look at back at the final stat line (minus the runs) for Thursday’s game between Orleans and Harwich, you’d likely think that the Mariners had won the game: Harwich- X runs, 10 hits, 0 errors; Orleans- X runs, 5 hits, 4 errors. But luckily for the Firebirds, the amount of hits and errors you rack up doesn’t matter sometimes. It’s the run column that counts, and Orleans had the upper hand in that one, 4-3, good for the win at Eldredge Park.

“I just had a good feeling that we were gonna come back,” field manager Kelly Nicholson said. “Hey, you’re never sure if you’re gonna get the right result, but I thought our process was good, I thought we pitched well, we swung the bats pretty well. You look up and we had four errors, and we’re not gonna be able to do that and expect to win a ballgame, especially against Harwich, who is really, really talented.”

Early in the game, it looked as if it could be a long night for Orleans. But Jason Wheeler (Loyola Marymount) was able to battle through jams and errors from his teammates to go five strong innings, and ended up getting the win.

“I thought [Wheeler] did a really good job out there tonight,” Nicholson said. “He’s developing more confidence in that changeup, and throwing his slider a little bit more. He made some big pitches tonight.”

Despite allowing four hits in the second inning, Wheeler only let in two runs, just one of them earned. He was helped out by a double steal the Mariners put on with runners at the corners. Ronnie Shaeffer (UC Irvine) caught the pitch from Wheeler, threw it to Anthony Gomez (Vanderbilt) at short, who ran at the runner coming from first, before throwing it back to Shaeffer to gun out the runner going home.

Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State) cut the lead in half in the fourth inning, when he clobbered a pitch over the Orleans bullpen in right field for his league-leading fifth home run of the season. The bomb made it 2-1, and seemed to give the club a spark.

“He’s just doing a really good job,” Nicholson said of Waldrip. “He works really hard, and he’s a quality kid. He’s the type of kid that you want good things to happen to, and I couldn’t have been happier that it happened to Ben tonight.”

Wheeler allowed another unearned run in the top of the fifth, but his teammates gave him some good run support in the bottom half of the inning.

With one out, Reed Gragnani (Virginia) walked, Shaeffer hit a double of the left field fence, and Jake Stewart (Stanford) walked to load the bases. Then, Andrew Aplin (Arizona State) drew another walk, scoring Gragnani.

Next up was Gomez, who made up for an earlier error with an infield single to down the first base line, driving in Shaeffer to tie the game.

Jayce Boyd (Florida State) capped off the rally with a sacrifice fly to center field, plating Stewart and giving the Firebirds the 4-3 lead.

Though the Firebirds only recorded two hits in the inning, they were able to take advantage of walks and manufactured runs to grab the lead for good.

“It was nice to come back,” Nicholson said. “It’s a good sign when a team [comes back]. It’s big for them to go out and throw up a zero. And we didn’t allow that to happen, and that was huge for us.”

From that point on, it was all the Orleans bullpen. Andrew Chafin (Kent State), Kenny Long (Illinois State), and Trevor Gott (Kentucky) combined to throw four scoreless innings of relief, and prevented any more runs from the Mariners.

“Chafin, Kenny Long, and T-Gott did an outstanding job tonight,” Nicholson said.

Gott pitched yet another 1-2-3 inning to record his sixth save of the season, allowing Wheeler to earn his first win of the year.

The win was huge for the Firebirds in terms of standings in the East Division, as they earned their third win in as many tries against the first-place Mariners. With the win, the Firebirds jumped into second place, and now trail Harwich by just three points.


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).

One Response to Firebirds Overcome Tough Start To Beat Harwich

  1. Teresa Gott says:

    Way to Go Firebirds!!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: