ORLEANS- The Orleans Firebirds pitching lived up to its reputation shutting out the Wareham Gatemen 1-0 twice.
Orleans manager Kelly Nicholson pushed all the right buttons for the Firebirds in both games. Due to the recent rest Nicholson planned to use his starter for 3 innings and then have a revolving door of relief pitchers using a different pitcher each inning to close out the game.
The pitching and defense was great for both teams heading scoreless into the 4thinning. Chase Wallace (Tennessee) took over for Jared Shuster (Wake Forest) in the 4thinning. Shuster (Wake Forest) was great in his 3 scoreless innings of work only allowing 3 hits and striking out 3 batters.
We all expected the Orleans pitching to be great but it was a pleasant surprise for the Wareham pitching to excel as well. Coming into the game the Gatemen were ranked 3rdto last in team ERA (4.05) but it didn’t look that way today.
This was mostly thanks to Ian Bedell (Missouri) who cruised his way through the game today. Bedell went 5 scoreless innings only allowing 3 hits striking out 6 batters and at one point retired 11 out of 12 batters in a row.
“My fastball in and changeups to lefties were really working for me today” Bedell Said. “Normally I leave them more at batters ankles and knees but today my changeup was very effective”
Jack Enger (Washington) relived Bedell in the 5thinning and looked confident on the mound allowing no hits in his 1 inning of work. It was a nice bounce back performance for Enger as he allowed 2 hits and a run in an inning of work against Chatham.
Tanner Bibee (Fullerton) took over for the 7thinning looking to send the game to extra innings. Coming into the game Bibee proved to be a very reliable bullpen arm throwing 5 innings of scoreless baseball, but unfortunately Raymond Gill (Miami) found a pitch he liked and hit a walk-off home run over the left field fence.
Bibee earned the lost and Nick Frasso (Loyola Marymount) was awarded the win. Frasso was one of 4 Firebirds relief pitchers who were fantastic for Orleans. Between Frasso, Austin Love (UNC), Donovan Benoit (Santa Fe), and Chad Wallace (Tennessee) The Gatemen were only able to muster 1 hit which was the difference maker.
“We need to have better at-bats overall and a better 2 strike approach” Bedell said. “We put together some really good at-bats and defensively we were outstanding but I think we just need a clutch hit once in a while.”
The script was very similar for the second game of the double-header. Nicholson drew up the same exact game plan and it worked to perfection.
This time for the Firebirds Noah Skirrow (Liberty) got the nod for the opening 3 innings. Skirrow was electric only allowing 2 hits. Skirrow has had a nice start to the season only allowing 1 run in 4 innings of action against Bourne in his debut.
Braiden Ward (Washington) got on base in the 3rd making it 6 out of 7 games for him getting on base. Ward got a great jump stealing 2ndand made it to 3rdon a wild throw to 2nd. Unfortunatley Ward was stranded on 3rd.
“Coast trusts and believes in me when it comes to stealing bases” Ward said. “I also believe in myself and have been getting some good jumps when attempting to steal.”
Shay Whitcomb (UCSD) got the Firebirds on the board in the 3rdinning with a booming home run over the left field fence. Bryce Elder (Texas) besides the one mistake was great only allowing 2 hits in 3 innings of work.
Connor Pellerin (Tulane) had 2 straight strikeouts in the 4thinning, but allowed a single and walked 2 batters loading the bases for the Gatemen. It looked as though the offense would finally breakthrough but Nicholson put in Dawson McCarville (Grand Canyon) and he got out of the jam.
Tora Otsuka led off the 5thinning with a double into right field. Otsuka advanced Otsuka to 3rdon a sacrifice bunt but Darren Baker (Cal Berkeley) hit a ball right to the 3rdbaseman creating a double play to end the inning.
For the third time of the game Wareham had a chance to do damage in the 7thinning. With 2 runners on and 1 out Ward hit a soft pop-up into right field and it was just that kind of dat for the Gatemen as Matthew Rudick (San Diego State) was caught in between 2ndand 3rdbase to end the game.
Elder earned the loss giving up the solo shot and McCarville earned the win for his relief efforts. Jeffrey Praml (Southern New Hampshire) earned the save for working his way out of the jam in the 7thinning and just like in game 1 the Gatemen offense couldn’t find an answer for the multiple pitcher strategy.
“Every pitcher here can compete and put the ball wherever they want so in some way its similar to the Pac-12 but there may be some more powerful arms on the Cape” Ward said. “I think this was nothing more than a bad day. Our pitchers pitched their hearts out and that usually wins the game but they were just as good so I have faith we will come out tomorrow and get a win.”
After the two losses the Gatemen fall to (5-5-1) on the season and lose 1stplace to the Cotuit Kettleers (6-4-1) in the Western Division. The Orleans Firebirds move into first place after the sweep improving to (6-4-1) on the season. The Gatemen are back in action tomorrow night hosting the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (1-8-1) at 6:45 p.m.
Photo by: Kristin Ostrowski