Boyd Powers Orleans Past Cotuit

By Greg Joyce

When things are going they way they are for the Orleans Firebirds, you don’t need to be perfect to win in baseball. That proved to be the case on Tuesday night in Cotuit, as the Firebirds overcame a 4-2 deficit by scoring 10 unanswered runs to defeat the Kettleers 12-4, earning their seventh straight victory.

Jayce Boyd (Florida State) capped off Orleans’ 8-run fourth inning with a huge grand slam to break out of his mini-slump. The bomb not only made it a 10-4 Firebirds lead, but also gave Boyd some confidence going forward.

“Yeah, I definitely got the monkey off my back a little bit,” Boyd said. “I got in the box and felt a little comfort and talked to [coach Benny Craig] before the relief guy came in and he just told me to get my timing down and be ready to hit.”

The advice worked, as Boyd slammed his second home run of the year and put a stronghold on the lead for the rest of the game.

“He’s a good hitter,” field manager Kelly Nicholson said. “He got a good pitch to hit. He’d been struggling a little bit as of late, but it was good to see him have a big offensive today. He’s a really, really good hitter. I told him today when he was sitting next to me after that home run, I said he was the best 9-hole hitter in the Cape League.”

The Firebirds tacked on two more runs in the seventh inning to get to the final score of 12-4. Boyd led off the inning by reaching second base on a throwing error. He advanced to third on a wild pitch, before scoring on a RBI single from Reed Gragnani (Virginia).

Gragnani went on to steal second base, and came in to score when Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State) singled to left field.

For the third straight game, the Firebirds scored a run in each of the first and second innings to get them off to a good start. The first run came thanks to back-to-back doubles from Gragnani and Matt Duffy (Long Beach State).

The second inning run was scored after the Firebirds took advantage of a Cotuit error. Matt Koch (Loyola Marymount) made it all the way to third base on a misplayed ball by the right fielder, and he was able to score on a wild pitch a batter later.

The pitching was not as sharp as usual for Orleans, but Tyler Johnson (Stony Brook) still turned in a strong five-inning performance. He allowed four runs over the five innings of work, but really settled down over his last two innings of work to earn the win.

“We were a little short down in the pen today, and [Johnson] really picked us up,” Nicholson said. “He gave us about 80 pitches or so, and him getting through five was big. He bounced back really well, threw up a couple zeroes after the third inning, and really saved our bullpen tonight.”

It was after Johnson had let up the 4-2 Cotuit lead in the third inning that the Firebirds came back with a vengeance, putting up the eight-spot in the fourth.

In his first time up in the inning, Boyd reached on an error by the shortstop to lead off. Matt Lowenstein (Loyola Marymount) then grounded into a fielder’s choice before Gragnani walked.

That brought up Duffy, who came through big with a double to the gap in left-center to score both runners and tie the game.

Then after Jake Stewart (Stanford) was intentionally walked with two outs, Tarran Senay (NC State) made Cotuit pay when he hit a stand-up double to left field to clear the bases. That gave Orleans the 6-4 lead, and they would never look back.

A walk to Koch and a single from Maxx Tissenbaum (Stony Brook) loaded the bases for Boyd’s round tripper.

In relief of Johnson, Tyler Gebler (Rutgers) threw four scoreless innings, delivering one of his best performances, which was especially important given a short bullpen on the night.

“Gebler came in and threw the ball as well as he’s thrown the ball all summer,” Nicholson said. “It was big. Of course it helped with an eight-run lead, but he did a good job. He kept the ball down and pounded the zone and it was exactly what we needed today in a game like this.”

Duffy, Gragnani, and Stewart all continued to be on fire at the plate, recording four, three, and two hits, respectively, apiece.

But it was Boyd who was the new contributor on the night, helping his team to record its seventh straight win.

“It’s very comfortable playing with these guys,” Boyd said. “Duffy was what, like [4-6] today? Watching those guys play is something fun that most people don’t get to experience. You get to watch a lot of guys who can play and it’s fun.”

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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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