Hauschild and Gragnani Continue Team’s Hot-Streak

By Greg Joyce

What a difference one week can make. Just last Sunday, the Orleans Firebirds were in the midst of an 8-game stretch in which they had won just two games. But now after Sunday night’s 5-3 victory over the Brewster Whitecaps, the Firebirds have won five straight and are clicking on all cylinders.

The pitching, defense, and offense have been showing up consistently and on the same nights during the win-streak, but it all begins with the starting pitching, and the Firebirds received a fine start on Sunday night.

Mike Hauschild (Dayton) turned in an impressive performance on the hill for Orleans, throwing five strong innings of scoreless baseball. The first nine outs he recorded came via the ground ball, making for an easy first three innings for Hauschild. He then allowed two runners in both the fourth and fifth innings, but got himself out of the jams nicely.

“It all starts with starting pitching, and any time you can get your starter to go five scoreless, you’re off to a good start,” field manager Kelly Nicholson said. “Haus did a good job.”

Hauschild was backed up with some nice run support from his teammates right from the start, as the Firebirds scored a run in each of the first two innings.

Andrew Aplin (Arizona State) led off the game with a walk, which was followed by a single from Anthony Gomez (Vanderbilt). Two outs later, Steve Selsky (Arizona) came up with a big RBI single to score Aplin and give Orleans the early 1-0 lead.

With one out in the second inning, Reed Gragnani (Virginia) started off his hot-hitting night with a single down the first base line. He then stole second base during the next at bat, and came around to score when Gomez slapped another single to right field.

Gragnani recorded his third hit of the night in the sixth inning with two outs and two on, and it brought home Matt Koch (Loyola Marymount) for the 3-0 lead.

The Whitecaps cut into the lead in the seventh inning, scoring two runs against Kyle Ottoson (Arizona State), but the Firebird offense was quick to make it a 3-run game again.

Selsky walked to begin the eighth, and he moved to third on a single by Koch and an error on the centerfielder. Jake Stewart (Stanford) came up next and hit a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Selsky.

That set the stage for Gragnani’s fourth hit and second RBI of the night, when he singled in Koch to give the Firebirds the 5-2 lead.

“He’s just a really, really good baseball player,” Nicholson said of Gragnani. “He defends, he hits, he stole [two] bases today. It was good to see him get four hits tonight.”

Meanwhile, Kurt Heyer (Arizona) was handling the pitching duties for Orleans, making another successful appearance out of the bullpen. He threw 1.2 innings, allowed one hit, no runs, and struck out three. Heyer continues to be a spark and a force out of the bullpen for the Firebirds, an important and valuable asset for the coaching staff to have.

Trevor Gott (Kentucky) came into the game in the ninth and did allow a run, but other than that he was dominant again, recording his league-leading 10th save.

There are still some things that Nicholson would like to improve upon going forward, but given where his team was just a week ago, he has to be pleased with what he is seeing.

“You’re gonna have to weather the storm a little bit when things go a little rough for you, but you also know that somewhere along the summer, you’re gonna have a run,” he said. “We happened to get ours at a pretty good time, and we seem to be playing pretty well. We could have played better today, we made some mistakes and got away with the result. But it’s nice to see this team get on a little run.”

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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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