Orleans Drops Close One In Harwich

By Greg Joyce

It was a pitcher’s duel in Harwich on Saturday night, and the Orleans Firebirds came up on the short side of it, losing at 1-0 decision at the hands of the Mariners. The Firebirds managed just two hits to the Mariners’ five, and that was the difference on the night.

Harwich broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth off Kenny Long (Illinois State). Long was in the game in relief of Kurt Heyer (Arizona), and the lefty let up a single to start the inning. Then a sac-bunt moved the runner to second, which was followed by a bloop single to right field by Darnell Sweeney (Central Florida) to bring home the only run of the game.

Heyer, who started the game for Orleans, went five strong innings for his team, allowing two hits, no runs, two walks, and struck out four. He was pulled after the fifth, though, due to his rising pitch count.

“I thought he threw the ball well tonight,” field manager Kelly Nicholson said. “He threw a lot of innings this spring in Arizona, so he’s gonna get around 80-85 pitches, and that’s where he was, and that’s why we went and got him. But he threw the ball way better than his last outing. He threw the ball well, he kept the ball down, and I’m really pleased with his performance tonight.”

In many other games, the start by Heyer would have been more than enough for the win, but the Firebird batters were faced with a tough matchup of their own. They were going up against Taylor Rodgers (Kentucky), who pitched seven shutout innings of two-hit ball, and did not allow a runner past first base.

“It was a really well-pitched game,” Nicholson said. “I thought they pitched really well. When you get two hits and don’t score any runs, you’re not gonna win many games.”

Relieving Long was Matt Boyd (Oregon State), who came into the game with runners on the corners and two outs. The lefty used his impressive pickoff move to throw out the runner at first to end the inning and any scoring threat.

Boyd then continued on for two more innings, not allowing any runs and keeping the game within the reach of the Orleans offense at 1-0.

“Yeah he did a good job,” Nicholson said of Boyd.

Matt Duffy (Long Beach State) and Jayce Boyd (Florida State) recorded the two hits on the night for the Firebirds, both singles. Boyd’s came in the first inning and Duffy’s in the sixth, but nothing came of either hit.

The loss drops the Firebirds to third place in the Eastern Division, and that is tough to swallow considering they could have been within one point Harwich for first place had they won the game.

“We could have been one point down, and now we’re five points down,” Nicholson said. “It would have been a big difference.”

This was the first time in four games that the Mariners have beaten the Firebirds, with the other three games all coming at Eldredge Park. Although every game in the short season counts in the long run, Nicholson said the games against Harwich carry some extra weight given the close standings atop the East.

“Absolutely,” he said. “We did whatever we could to get after these guys tonight, and we just fell a little bit short.”

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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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