ORLEANS – Two home runs, 13 hits, and 8.5 innings of stellar pitching with 12 strikeouts led the Orleans Firebirds to a 7-2 victory in the Cape League this week, keeping them firmly atop the East Division and the league, after wresting control last week.
After a scoreless first inning the game looked to belong to Harwich thanks to a nice two-run homer by Joey Wiemer, Jr. at the top of the second. The hit also brought home Niko Kavadas, who opened the inning with a double.
But the Firebirds starting pitcher Jared Shuster quickly regrouped, forcing a fly out from Patrick Winkel before ending the Mariners’ run with an out against Hal Hughes.
Orleans leadoff batter Raymond Gil offered a resounding response when he swung into a home run of his own on the first pitch thrown by Harwich pitcher Carson Seymour, narrowing the Mariners' lead even as a double play, followed by a quick out, brought the second inning to a close.
The Firebirds struck again in the fourth when Max Troiani raced home for an unearned run following a sac fly to center from teammate Danny Serretti, tying the game at 2-all. Meanwhile, Shuster kept up his solid run, lasting five innings with six strikeouts, two hits and two runs.
At the top of the fifth, Shuster quickly sent the Harwich side packing, paving the way for Jordan Lala's leadoff single to center. While Lala was caught stealing during Zach Kokoska's at bat, Kokoska made up for it by hitting the Firebirds' second home run of the outing, giving Orleans a 3-2 edge after five.
A three-run sixth gave the home team Firebirds some insurance to work with. After Serretti hit into an easy out, Shay Whitcomb reached on a single, heading to second on another single hit by Rob Emery. With two on and one out, Josh Zamora stepped to the plate and swung into a single that brought home Whitcomb.
A single to third from Lala loaded the bases, with Kokoska drawing the second out when Harwich third baseman Cameron Thompson snagged a pop-up in foul territory. A walk from Troiani then brought in Emery, giving Orleans a two-run advantage, with a balk called on Harwich pitcher Cam Baumann bringing in Zamora.
The Firebirds' final run came in the eighth inning when Lala came home on a sacrifice shot from Troiani, after which it was up to closing pitchers Nick Garcia and Carter Lohman to finish things off. Each stepped in for a fraction of an inning, with Garcia earning two strikeouts and Lohman one. Meanwhile, relief pitcher Isaac Esqueda came in for a little more than two innings, striking out three Harwich batters.
At bat, Lala ended up going 3-for-5 with a run, while Kokoska went 2-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Troiani went 2-for-3 with a run and two RBIs, while both Gil and Zamora went 1-for-4 with one run and one RBI each. Whitcomb and Emery each went 1-for-3 with one run apiece. On the Harwich side, Kavadas went 1-for-4 with a run, while Cory Acton went 1-for-2 with one run and two RBIs.
Next up for the Firebirds is a home game against Chatham tonight (July 4) at 7 p.m. The 'Birds then travel to Wareham tomorrow night for a 6:45 p.m. game before returning home July 6 to host the Y-D Red Sox. On July 7 the Firebirds travel to South Yarmouth to face the Sox before returning to Eldredge Park on July 8 to host Chatham in a make-up game beginning at 7 p.m.
On July 4 the Mariners host the Brewster Whitecaps at 6:30 p.m., then travel to Bourne on Friday for a 6 p.m. game. On July 6 Harwich hosts Wareham in a doubleheader that starts with Game 1 at 3 p.m., and on July 7 travels to Wareham for a 6:30 p.m. game. On July 8 the Mariners travel to South Yarmouth to face Y-D at 5 p.m.