Firebirds Return To Form At Home

By Greg Joyce

It had been a frustrating few days for the Orleans Firebirds, dropping five of their last six including one-run losses in their last two games. On Saturday night at home though, the Firebirds put it all together for one of their best wins of the season, defeating the Falmouth Commodores 7-3.

Orleans was anchored by the impressive start of Ryan Carpenter (Gonzaga), who turned in another strong performance. The lefty finished pitching six innings, allowing two hits, one run (unearned), one walk, and striking out five.

“I thought Carp had a good start and that’s where it all kind of begins, with your starting pitching,” field manager Kelly Nicholson said.

It was the second straight start in which Carpenter threw six innings, and he picked up his third win of the summer, lowering his ERA to 2.77 in the process.

“I thought Carp threw the ball well tonight,” Nicholson said. “I thought his stuff was good from the stretch. That’s kind of what we expect from Carp when he toes the rubber: five or six strong innings, 85 pitches, zero or one run.”

The Firebirds jumped ahead in the third inning off a home run from Andrew Aplin (Arizona State), and that provided a spark in the club, as they would never look back after that.

Carpenter allowed the only run of his start in the fourth inning, but it was unearned. That tied the game at 1-1, but the Firebirds were quick to take the lead back.

Batting third in the lineup for the first time all season, Matt Duffy (Long Beach State) led off the fourth with a double down the left field line. Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State) followed by laying down a perfect sac-bunt to move Duffy to third with one out. After Jayce Boyd (Florida State) walked, Matt Koch (Loyola Marymount) came through with a single over the third baseman’s head to score Duffy.

Back on the mound with the lead, Carpenter settled in nicely in his last two innings of work, and retired the last six batters he faced in a row.

The bottom of the fifth inning featured Orleans tacking on more runs, and again the rally started with a double down the left field line. This one came from Jake Stewart (Stanford), who then moved over to third on a passed ball.

That set the stage for Anthony Gomez (Vanderbilt), who found a hole on the right side for a single that brought home Stewart, making it 3-1 Orleans.

The Commodores made it a one-run game in the seventh inning when Max White (Oklahoma) hit a home run off Matt Boyd (Oregon State), prompting the Firebird offense to step up again in the bottom of the inning.

With one out, Stewart reached on a base on balls, and then took advantage of Falmouth miscues to cross the plate. He advanced to second on a passed ball, got to third on a wild pitch, and then finally scored on another wild pitch.

In that same at bat, Aplin also reached via a walk, followed by Gomez reaching with a walk of his own. The two speedsters each advanced a base when they executed a double steal during the next at bat.

Then it was time for Waldrip to add to his team-lead in RBI, as he smacked a line drive into center field that scored both runners and gave Orleans a four-run lead.

“Ben Waldrip came up in that situation and got a couple RBI, a couple insurance runs, and made it a lot easier on the back end of our bullpen tonight,” Nicholson said.

After the Commodores added a run in the eighth off Boyd to make it 6-3, but that was as close as they would get.

In the bottom of the inning, Koch led off with his second hit of the night, a single to left field. Following walks to Rudy Flores (Florida International) and Matt Lowenstein (Loyola Marymount) and a flyout by Stewart, Aplin notched his second RBI of the night with a sac-fly to center field. Koch scored the seventh run of the night for Orleans, ending the scoring for the Firebirds.

Trevor Gott (Kentucky) pitched a scoreless ninth to secure the win for the Firebirds.

Duffy finished with a three-hit night out of the three-spot, continuing his successful season at the plate. He is now hitting an impressive .310 which leads the team.

“Duff is just a really good baseball player,” Nicholson said. “The thing I really like about Duff is that he pays attention to the game. He’s got a high baseball IQ. He’s into every pitch. He’s our leading hitter, and that’s why we put him in the three-hole and moved Boyd down. We just tried to mix it up a little bit, and we got a nice result out of it tonight. He had a solid, solid game tonight.”

Given the promising results, Nicholson said he sees more lineups in the future with Duffy batting third.

This important win comes after a tough stretch of losses for the Firebirds, and they will now look to build on the victory going forward.

“Every team, every summer, is gonna go through a little down period,” the skipper said. “And you just gotta kind of weather the storm and kind of keep your head above water. Hopefully this thing will get us going.”

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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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