By Jack Loder
The weather could not have been more consistent with the mood of Monday night’s game through seven and a half innings at Eldredge Park. Gray, soupy and bleak. That crumby weather didn’t shift, but the momentum certainly did. The Firebirds entered the home half of the eighth inning trailing Chatham 2-1. They brought seven batters to the plate in the frame, scoring three runs with two outs to take a 4-2 lead that they would not give back.
Garret Guillemette has a knack for the big moment. Earlier this summer, his three run bomb in the eighth inning secured a tie for Orleans against Brewster. On monday night, all it took was a two out two strike single to left to tie the game. Guillemette took a wide turn around first and fired up his dugout as he retreated to the bag. The clutch knock was as desperately needed as it was contagious. Drew Metzdorf, making his first appearance for Orleans this summer, ripped a fastball down the left field line. Guillemette chugged around and scored all the way from first to give Orleans the lead. Metzdorf’s first hit in the Cape Cod league comes as a game winning RBI.
“Once we got a rally started everyone kind of looked around and said alright it’s go time. Once things start going well for our team it can get pretty contagious,” Guillemette said. “I’ve faced this guy before and he’s good at keeping people off balance. He went cutter cutter and then I sat on the slider. Just shut my eyes and swung.”
Eyes closed or open, the swing was huge. Guillemette high stepped into home plate three pitches later when he scored on Metzdorf’s double, matching the jubilant first base dugout’s energy.
“I’m a high energy guy all the time,” Guillemette said. “It’s important to remember how fun it is to win, and that even when you’re struggling you can be really close to breaking through. The Birds are about to get real hot.”
Ben Shields shut the door in the ninth, retiring the first two Anglers before Ryan Bourassa was called upon to record the final out. Shields’ perfect ninth was just the finishing touch of what was a masterful outing for the George Mason left hander. He relieved Patrick Reilly with two outs in the fifth and didn’t look back. He tossed 3.1 scoreless innings, dominating Chatham’s bats with a tremendous fastball curveball mix. Shields only had to pitch from the stretch on one occasion.
“I’m just going out and attacking hitters, I had a feel for all four pitches tonight,” Shields said. “Every day is a different day, we have to be ready to compete. It was great to get a win for the Birds.”
Orleans was in a rut, had been for the better part of the last 10 days. During that span, the Birds have slipped from a solid playoff position in third place in the East, to the precipice of fifth. Monday night’s win was a huge swing for the group, as a loss would have put them in a tie with the Anglers. The win has them clear of Chatham by two games.
With the departure of Donye Evans and Kyle Carr, Patrick Reilly has assumed the role of number two starter behind Bryce Warrecker. He made his sixth start of the summer on Monday and gave his team a solid chance to win. He went 4.2 innings, surrendering both Chatham runs while striking out five.
“We’re right there, we’ve been right there all year,” Guillemette said. “When we play together we are really hard to beat.”