Offense Back, But Pitching Roughed Up In Loss

By Greg Joyce

Different story, same result. The Orleans offense came alive on Monday night in Yarmouth-Dennis for the first time in three games, but this time it was the pitching that hurt the Firebirds, as they were handed their third straight defeat, 15-8. It looked good early for Orleans with a 3-1 lead in the third, but that lead only lasted for a matter of minutes, and it was downhill after that.

It only took the first inning for the Firebirds to top their hit total from Sunday night, as they used three hits to take the early lead. With one out, Anthony Gomez (Vanderbilt) slapped a line drive to center field to get things going. He moved over to second on a balk by the pitcher, and got to third on a single to left field by Jayce Boyd (Florida State).

With runners on the corners, Y-D’s starter Joey DeNato (Indiana) tried to pick off Boyd at first. On a heads up play, Gomez broke for home once DeNato threw to first, and crossed the plate before the throw finally came to the catcher. Boyd advanced to second on the play at home, as Gomez made it 1-0 Orleans.

The next batter was Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State), who lined a pitch to right field for another single, with Boyd holding at third base. There was a passed ball during the next at bat, and Boyd came home to notch the score at 2-0.

Orleans’ starter Mike Hauschild (Dayton) allowed a run in the bottom of the first, but got out of any further trouble in his first two innings to keep the 2-1 lead heading into the third.

Waldrip tacked a run on to the lead in the third inning in a big way, blasting his league-leading sixth home run of the year over the right field fence.

But that was the last time the Firebirds would lead on the night, as the Red Sox quickly took hold of it in the bottom of the inning. Y-D exploded for six runs off Hauschild, sending 11 batters to the plate before Tyler Gebler (Rutgers) finally got Orleans out of the inning. But at the end of three, the Red Sox held a 7-3 lead, and never looked back.

The Firebirds chipped away at the lead in the fourth, when Matt Koch (Loyola Marymount) reached with a double and ended up scoring on a groundout by Matt Lowenstein (Loyola Marymount).

In the bottom of the fifth, though, the Red Sox nearly batted around again, and tacked on five more runs off the Firebirds pitching staff. Three runs were charged to Gebler, while the other two were allowed by Pat Butler (UConn).

Facing a 12-4 deficit in the seventh inning, Orleans added two runs thanks to the bat of Reed Gragnani (Virginia). After Lowenstein singled to center, Gragnani got a hold of a pitch for a two-run home run, his first of the season.

“I thought [Gragnani] looked really good at the plate tonight,” Nicholson said.

Still not done with the scoring, the Red Sox put up a three-spot in the bottom of the eighth when Brian Johnson (Florida) homered off Nick Mutz (Western Oklahoma).

Trailing by nine in the ninth, the Firebirds didn’t give up, as Gragnani led off the inning with a double, his second hit of the day. Andrew Aplin (Arizona State) followed with a double of his own, scoring Gragnani. He moved to third on a passed ball, and scored on a groundout from Gomez.

“I told them after the game I loved the way they competed all the way down to the final at bat,” Nicholson said. “As long as we continue to compete like that, we’re gonna get good results.”

But it was too little, too late for Orleans, as they couldn’t sustain the rally, and ended up dropping the game 15-8.

Waldrip continued to be a force for this ballclub, as he put up three hits on the night including his bomb.

“He’s shown why he’s a draft pick,” Nicholson said. “He’s a solid hitter and he’s a hall of fame kid. You couldn’t be happier for him and good things to happen to good people.”

Though it was the third-straight defeat for the Firebirds, Nicholson still saw some bright spots from an offensive standpoint besides Gragnani and Waldrip.

“I thought Gomez looked good at the plate tonight,” Nicholson said. “Lowenstein looked better at the plate tonight. Those guys are starting to swing the bats better.

“Normally, seven or eight runs is going to win in this league, especially with our pitching staff. We’ll bounce back.”

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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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