Firebirds fans had much to cheer about this week when their top-notch team took to the road and trounced both Chatham and Harwich in back-to-back outings, with the wins helping to keep the Orleans team poised firmly atop the East Division as the second half of summer baseball gets under way.
Strong Pitching, Timely Hitting Lift Orleans To An 8-2 Win Against Chatham
A four-run fifth inning and solid pitching by the Firebirds' bullpen proved problematic for the Chatham Anglers when they hosted the Orleans-based team on Sunday night at Veterans Field.
Chatham's only runs came in the sixth inning when Jake Palomaki batted into a two-run homer that included Mason Koppens in the scoring, but by then the damage had been done, with the Firebirds holding a seven-run lead prior to Palomaki's dinger.
It was a beautiful night for baseball when the teams met at Vets, and it was the Firebirds who struck first with two runs in the third inning. Brandon Riley hit a well-placed single to bring home teammates Lars Nootbaar and Niko Decolati to put the 'Birds on the board while the Anglers remained stymied by Orleans starter Ryan Rolison, who lasted five hitless innings with eight strikeouts and only one walk.
Meanwhile the Firebirds weathered five Chatham pitchers en route to victory, including starter Jeff Belge who went four innings with five hits, three runs, two walks and one strikeout. When Chatham's Nick Rand took over, the 'Birds attacked with a hard-hitting fifth that began with Jimmy Herron's single to center.
A single from Nootbaar put Herron in scoring position on third, paving the way for him to score on a Decolati single. After Kevin Strohschein drew the first out of the inning, Riley pushed forward Decolati and Nootbaar with another single before Firebirds fans cheered the duo on when they raced home on a Romy Gonzalez hit to center.
Ethan Paul capped off the inning with another single that brought in Riley before back-to-back fly outs brought the inning to a close.
A big highlight of the night for fans of the Orleans squad was Romy Gonzalez's not one but two home runs, the first leading off the top of the fourth inning and the second coming in the ninth to clinch the 8-2 win.
Overall Gonzalez went 4-for-4 with two runs and four RBIs, while Nootbaar went 3-for-5 with two runs. Decolati went 1-for-4 with two runs and one RBI, with Riley going 2-for-5 with a run and two RBIs, while Ethan Paul went 2-for-5 with one RBI.
On the Chatham side Palomaki went 1-for-3 with a run and two RBIs and Koppens 1-for-3 with one run.
The Firebirds win avenges a loss to the Anglers on July 5 when the A's trumped the 'Birds 4-2. Chatham doesn't get another crack at Orleans until Aug. 2 at Eldredge Park, but in the coming days will face Hyannis at home (tonight, July 13, at 7 p.m.), Bourne at Doran Park (July 14 at 6 p.m.), and Harwich at Whitehouse Field (July 15 at 5:30 p.m.).
Ninth Inning Hit Parade Leads To Big Firebirds Victory Against Harwich
A late-game homer from Harwich hitter Cameron Simmons looked to be a crucial hit for the Mariners on Monday night when they hosted the Orleans Firebirds, but a six-run ninth allowed the 'Birds to soar past the Mariners for an 8-3 visitors victory.
An Ethan Paul two-run home run in the second inning put Orleans on the flickering scoreboard in Harwich, but it was a thunderous ninth that clinched the win for the visiting Firebirds that started off with a hit, but not the good kind for Jimmy Herron, who reached first after being hit by a pitch from Harwich hurler Cole Aker.
With Jaxx Groshans already on base after a nice leadoff single, Lars Nootbaar stepped up and moved the duo along with a sac fly before Niko Decolati scored Groshans with a single of his own to tie the game at 3-all.
A double to right field from Steven Passatempo then gave Orleans a two-run advantage after bringing in Herron and Decolati for a 5-3 Firebirds lead, but the inning wasn't over yet. After a Harwich pitching change that saw Teddy Rodliff step in for Aker, Stephen Scott swung into a long double that brought in a blazing Passatempo for the sixth Orleans run.
Next up was Romy Gonzalez who scored Scott with a single, with Gonzalez capping off the night with a run home on a sac fly from Cesar Salazar before pitcher Cal Krueger stepped in to end the inning.
The first Harwich run came in the fifth when a double from Bradley Debo brought in Max Burt to narrow the Orleans lead 2-1. Fans then had high hopes in the eighth when Simmons capitalized on a solid pitch, parlaying it into a stellar home run that also scored Jonathan India giving the home team a 3-2 edge heading into the final frame.
Unfortunately for Harwich the win wasn't to be as the 'Birds bats lit up the ninth. Overall for Orleans, Gonzalez went 3-for-5 with two runs and one RBI, with Decolati going 4-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Paul went 2-for-4 with a run and two RBIs, while Groshans went 1-for-2 with one run and Scott went 1-for-1 with a run and an RBI.
For Harwich, Simmons went 2-for-4 with one run and two RBIs, with Max Burt going 1-for-4 with one run. Debo went 1-for-4 with an RBI, and India 2-for-3 with one run.
Each team employed five pitchers in the outing, with Orleans hurler JT Hintzen earning the win in the eighth, pitching one inning with two hits, two runs and one strikeout. Starter Dan Lynch lasted five innings with three hits, one run, one walk and six strikeouts before reliever Riley Thompson stepped in for a short stint, allowing one hit with one strikeout.
Graeme Stinson then stepped in for a little more than an inning, with no hits, no runs and three strikeouts, with closer Josh Hiatt allowing one hit in an otherwise quickly retired side in the final inning.
Harwich starter Jake Agnos lasted five innings in which he gave up seven hits and two runs with two strikeouts, while Tim Herrin stepped in for three innings with five hits, one run, and three strikeouts. Aker suffered the loss, allowing two hits and three runs in less than an inning, with Rodliff allowing two hits and two runs. Closer Krueger allowed no hits and no runs.
Harwich travels to Orleans tonight (July 13) for a 7 p.m. start before hosting Wareham tomorrow night (July 14, 6:30 p.m.) and Chatham on Saturday night (July 15, 5:30 p.m.) as teams await the League's All-Star selections, due out in advance of the July 22 Cape League All-Star Game at Spillane Field in Wareham.