ORLEANS – In an otherwise scoreless outing, a two-run homer made all the difference for the Orleans Firebirds, who won their Cape League home opener against Bourne on June 10 with a final score of 2-0.
The first game of the 2019 season got under way promptly at 7 p.m. at Eldredge Park with Orleans southpaw Adam Seminaris taking the mound for the home team, quickly striking out Bourne's leadoff batter Ernie Yake before forcing the second in the lineup, Zavier Warren, into a fly out. A quick 5-3 putout on Brendan Rivoli finished things off.
Though hoping for hits, the Firebirds' Jordan Lala, AJ Lewis, and Eddie McCabe were also quickly dispatched by Bourne hurler Harrison Rutkowski for a scoreless first inning.
Bourne's Shane Muntz swung into the first hit of the game, a ground rule double that nearly went over the right field fence alongside the foul pole, but bounced just shy. Unfortunately for Muntz, Seminaris was on top of his game and easily drew the next two outs.
As the bottom of the second got under way, it looked as if the game would continue as it had, with batters getting retired in rapid succession, as evidenced by Zach Kokoska's strikeout. But then Firebirds teammate Max Troiani stepped to the plate and smacked a nice single to center to reach first, much to the delight of dedicated fans gathered along the hill along the first baseline.
That's when Josh Zamora stepped up, weathering two balls, a strike, and a pickoff attempt of Troiani before bringing his bat around to connect with the ball for a beautiful two-run homer that appeared to land somewhere in Eastham.
That was all the scoring the game would allow, though each side gave its all. While there were hits, neither team was able to muster much offense beyond a handful of singles. Lewis went 1-for-4, as did McCabe, while Troiani and Zamora each went 1-for-3 with one run. Rob Emery went 2-for-3.
On the pitcher's mound, the game offered Orleans manager Kelley Nicholson the chance to have a look at several strong arms. Seminaris earned the win, pitching five innings with two strikeouts, no errors, and only two hits, while reliever Tim Miller lasted two innings, striking out four and walking one. Donovan Benoit stepped in at the top of the eighth for one inning, recording two strikeouts, with Jeff Praml closing out the game in the ninth with one strikeout, a fly out, and a 1-3 putout.
“We're always looking for nine zeroes up there,” said Nicholson referring to the scoreboard display of Bourne's numbers. “It's hard to get beat when you're only giving up zeroes.”
Nicholson said his bullpen was in fine form, and that the switch between a starting lefty and the subbed-in right-handers kept Bourne on their toes, something Nicholson said he planned for prior to game play.
“They pitched well tonight,” he said. “I'm obviously pleased. The script played out pretty well tonight.”
Zamora's hit was also a high point in the outing, but Nicholson said his hopes for the 2019 crew go beyond wins and losses.
“What we want them to do here is go back to their universities as better people, better young men for the people they've met, the friendships they've formed, the relationships they've made,” Nicholson said. “I think if they do that, it's been a successful summer. If they don't do that then we have failed them, because that's a priority for us. For me, doing this 19 summers, it's the relationships that are very best.”
Nicholson also hopes his team takes their talents all the way to the championship in August.
“Obviously, we want to win the last game of the Cape League,” he said. “That's our goal.”
The Firebirds travel to Wareham tomorrow night (June 14) at 7 p.m. before returning home Saturday night to face Brewster, also at 7 p.m.