Awards Handed Out On Wednesday Night

By Greg Joyce

Prior to Wednesday night’s regular season home finale against Chatham, the Orleans Firebirds organization handed out their annual awards, citing eight players who went above and beyond expectations throughout the season.

The Charles F. Moore, Sr. Award for the team’s most valuable player went to Matt Duffy (Long Beach State), who was outstanding for the Firebirds all season long. Coming in as a temp, Duffy filled in at shortstop, second base, and third base, displaying his versatility in the field. He also slid into the three-spot in the lineup by the midpoint of the season, and finished the season as the team’s leading hitter, batting .346.

Duffy’s roommate and journey-mate, Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State) shared the Charles F. Moore, Jr. Award with John Brebbia (Elon). The award cited Waldrip and Brebbia for their outstanding performance on and off the field. The young men have performed incredibly on the field for their team, and are two of the nicest players you will meet off the field as well.

Trevor Gott (Kentucky) was awarded with the Thomas Yankus Pitching Award for his performance on the mound. Gott finished the season 12-for-12 in save opportunities, with a 1.29 ERA. The All-Star’s cool demeanor and impressive poise on the hill earned him the relief pitcher of the year for the CCBL.

The next award was the Castleberry Coaches’ award, and it went to Reed Gragnani (Virginia) and Ronnie Shaeffer (UC Irvine). These two players did everything their coaches asked of them, and came to the field each and every day with great attitudes that their coaches were lucky to have.

Finally, the Harry Hossfeld Spirit Award was given to Andrew Aplin (Arizona State) and Anthony Gomez (Vanderbilt). These two players gave the Firebirds a much-needed spark when they arrived at the beginning of July, and their presence and energy could be felt in every game. Whether they were hitting, making spectacular defensive plays, or just getting guys excited in the dugout, Aplin and Gomez gave Orleans the jumpstart it needed to lock up the number one seed in the East.

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A Step In The Right Direction

By Greg Joyce

There was a good feeling going around at Eldredge Park after Tuesday night’s game, and that is because the Firebirds got back in the win column. Orleans ended its three-game skid with a 3-1 victory over Hyannis, thanks to John Brebbia’s (Elon) arm and Ronnie Shaeffer’s (UC Irvine) bat.

Brebbia got his third start of the summer on the hill, and he was dominant early. The kid who summered in Chatham growing up went the first 4.2 innings without allowing a hit, and ended the night after five innings, only letting up one run.

“I felt great tonight,” Brebbia said. “My arm felt awesome, which it has all summer. Awesome defense behind me, which is the best a pitcher can ask for. Defense and hitting, that’s exactly what we had. We got on the board fairly early, made a bunch of nice plays, and it was just a great overall game that we played today. It was good.”

The run support that Brebbia spoke of came in the third inning, when Orleans scored all three of its runs.

Reed Gragnani (Virginia) got the rally going with a double to the gap in left, and he advanced to third on a sac-bunt from Andrew Aplin (Arizona State). Anthony Gomez (Vanderbilt) brought home Gragnani on a single through the right side to make it 1-0.

After Gomez, Jayce Boyd (Florida State) drew a walk, followed by a fly out from Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State) for the second out. Then, Steve Selsky (Arizona) joined the hit parade with a single to left field, putting runners at the corners for Shaeffer.

The catcher known more for his defense came through offensively, smacking a single to center field to score Gomez and Boyd.

“We had timely hitting with Ronnie Shaeffer,” field manager Kelly Nicholson said.

That 3-spot stood strong through the whole game for Orleans, as the pitching staff came up big.

Relieving Brebbia was Andrew Chafin (Kent State), who threw two perfect innings before getting into a jam in the eighth. The lefty got two outs but loaded the bases, and exited the game giving way to Trevor Gott (Kentucky).

Gott had little margin for error, but he wasn’t phased by the pressure situation, as he struck out the batter to end the inning.

“Huge situation with T-Gott,” Nicholson said.

In the ninth inning, Gott allowed an infield single with two outs that brought the potential tying run to the plate. But once again, Gott came through, striking out Adam Walker (Jacksonville) on three pitches to end the game.

“Trevor just pounded the zone and threw nothing but fastballs,” Nicholson said. “He did an outstanding job. Just really attacked the mitt with his fastball, which is awesome to see.”

Gott picked up his seventh save of the season with his 1.1-inning performance, continuing his lights-out pitching.

On the offensive side, Selsky and Matt Duffy (Long Beach State) both racked up two hits. Duffy has now reached base in five straight games. Eight Firebirds recorded at least one hit. Aplin wasthe only starter without one, though he did have the key sac-bunt in the third-inning rally.

Most importantly, the win snapped a three-game skid for the Firebirds, and put them back in the right direction.

“It was good to get a W,” Nicholson said. “That’s a typical Cape League game tonight: low-scoring, well-pitched. It was good.”