ORLEANS – Two games in Orleans, two heart-wrenching and nail-biting finishes. Both one run games ended with Cotuit players stranded on third when the final out was made.
In the first game it was Patrick Biondi (Michigan) who led off the ninth with a single. Biondi stole second and then advanced to third on a Victor Roache (Georgia Southern) grounder. With two outs and the tying run on third Ryon Healy (Oregon) stepped to the dish.
Healy this season has gone just 3-18, but has been robbed on almost every at-bat. Just this weekend, when Healy made contact, he put the sweet spot of the bat all over the ball. In the final out of game one of the day-night double-header with Orleans, Healy’s struggles continued as he hit a grounder to first to end the game at 4-3.
For the second game in a row the finish came down to the final out. This time the Kettleers trailed by a score of 2-1. With one out after Kevin Mager (Rollins) struck out, Kyle Wren (Georgia Tech) stepped up to the plate looking for anything to score Biondi. Wren dropped down a bunt that died before it hit the grass. Orleans catcher, Jake Hernandez (USC) picked it up, stepped on home and fired it down the line to beat Wren to the bag to end the game.
“What we want to do is get a tie game and get to the bottom. Sure do I think that every batter on this team can hit the ball into the outfield? Yeah they can without a doubt, but I’ve got my best bunter at the plate, he can fly and if the ball is out four feet from the plate then we score, but it wasn’t” said coach Mike Roberts of the final play of the game.
In both games the Kettleers got good starts out of their pitchers. Chris Beck (Georgia Southern) who came into the game having already thrown a complete 7 inning game against the Y-D Red Sox looked for a repeat performance in Orleans. Beck went 5.2, gave up 2 earned and struck out seven. Beck’s seven strike outs gives him 13 on the year, good for third in the Cape League. It was Paul Schwendel (Emory) in the second game for the Kettleers getting his first start of the summer.
Beck looked good throughout the game, but just three key mistakes gave the Firebirds all the runs they would need to take game one. All four Firebird runs came on balls that left Eldredge Field. The first two runs came off the bat of Maxx Tissenbaum (Stony Brook) when he hit a home run to right in the 3rd. Both Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State) and Steve Selsky (Arizona) added solo shots for the Firebirds to give pitcher Matt Carpenter (Gonzaga) some run support.
Carpenter, who was drafted in the 7th round by the Tampa Bay Rays got the win for the Firebirds. Carpenter is in his second year with Orleans and the lefty is considered one of the best starters on an incredible Firebird pitching staff.
“If you’re going to improve in this League, you have to face the best and that’s what we want to do,” said Roberts before game one about the talented Orleans pitching.
Another veteran Orleans pitcher was Marcus Stroman (Duke). Stroman was selected all-league last summer and was ACC freshman of the year in 2010. Stroman kept the bats of the Kettleers quiet for three dominant innings in his last outing before leaving the Cape for a stint with Team USA.
Schwendel looked strong and went 4.2 and no earned. Schwendel got a little help from his shortstop Trevor Stevens (Northwestern) who made a full-extension diving catch in the 4th to rob Rudy Flores (Florida International) of a hit.
Flores would get revenge in the 6th. With no one on and two outs, Flores hit a shot to right that left the park for the eventual winning run.
“I’ve got to make some adjustments. Not them. I’ve got to make some adjustments to the type of team, because it’s really sad that we walk out of here without a win. I hate it for the guys.” said Roberts.
With the wins the Firebirds improve their winning streak to 4. With the losses the Kettleers fall back below .500 at 4-5-1. They look to get back to their winning ways on Tuesday against the Harwich Mariners (6-4) at Whitehouse Field in Harwich.