COTUIT – What started off as a pristine and warm day at Lowell Park, slowly turned into a blustery and cloudy bullpen showdown that ended in a darkness-shortened 5-5 tie against the Orleans Firebirds.
The game started off as an offensive dog fight that quickly dug into each team’s bullpens. Cotuit starter Kendall Graveman (Mississippi State) only went three innings giving up five hits and two earned runs. Firebird’s starter Tyler Johnson (Stony Brook) only went 2 1/3 allowing six hits and one earned. Each team used five pitchers in the game.The lead changed five times in the first five innings, the last lead change favoring Orleans in the top of the fifth after Maxx Tissenbaum (Stony Brook) knocked in Steve Selsky (Arizona) by a groundball that split the right side of the infield giving the Firebirds the 5-4 lead.
After that, the game, unlike the weather, began to settle down a bit. Both teams traded scoreless frames until the bottom of the eighth when Kevin Mager (Rollins) occupied first base via fielder’s choice. Orleans pitcher Matt Boyd (Oregon State) had the pitchers’ equivalent of lightning hitting the same spot twice by balking to Alex Yarbrough (Ole Miss) twice to put Mager on third with two outs. Alex came through by sending a single over the short stop to send Mager home for his second RBI of the day knotting the game at 5.
“The umpire on the first balk said that he [Boyd] stepped towards home plate, and if that’s what he saw then it’s really hard to argue that,” said Orleans Coach Kelly Nicholson. “I did not see that, but we try and teach our guys to handle adversity, we are going to get some calls we don’t like, and it’s always going to be about getting after the next pitch.”
Cotuit closer Bobby Wahl (Ole Miss) pitched through the final 2 1/3 innings of the game. This was Wahl’s longest outing of the season. His fatigue began to show in the 9th inning. After getting Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville) to ground out, Orleans got two singles from Selsky and Matt Koch (Loyola Marymount). Matt Duffy (Long Beach State) then hit into a fielder’s choice, putting runners at the corners with 2 outs. Luckily, Wahl was able to muster just enough juice on his fastball to blow it by a swinging Tissenbaum for the final out of the inning.
“It was difficult at first,” explained Wahl. “I haven’t gone that long in awhile. It was different than the usual one inning, but it felt pretty good.”
Through an innocent smile, Bobby revealed that he is not the biggest fan of ties.
“It’s worse than losing. It’s pretty bad. But you know, it is what it is, and you just have to move on and go to the next one.”
Cotuit, now 8-13-2, will try and move on as they face the Chatham Anglers (6-15-1) on Friday July 8th at 7 PM. The game will be at Veterans Field.