By Jack Loder
After the top of the first inning on Thursday, it looked as though game one of the Orleans va Y-D playoff series would be a snoozer. The Firebirds scored six times, picking up seven hits and sending 10 men to the plate. If one were to assume that the action had come and gone, they couldn’t have been more wrong.
After eight innings, a furious comeback, 23 total runs, and a near brawl, Y-D leads Orleans 12-11 with the top of the ninth set to be resumed on Friday at noon.
The game was called for darkness, then things really got interesting.
Josh Allen struck out Y-D’s Cole Carrigg to end the eighth, and the two exchanged words. Coaches and some players met near the plate, then there was some shoving and finally both benches cleared. Cooler heads prevailed before things really got out of hand, but the beef is there. And the coaches were right in the middle of it.
“You get emotional, everybody wants to win,” Kelly Nicholson said. “But we’re certainly not gonna let them run their mouths at us. That guy is not going to say that anything is bush league, because it wasn’t.”
Nicholson spoke for a fired up group. Every Orleans player hung around the outside of the dugout until the situation had been fully de-escalated.
“We’re certainly not backing down from those guys over there.”
Part of the reason the Birds were on edge was the fact that they had let a seven run lead slip through their fingers late. Through four and a half innings, Orleans was on cruise control. Jacob Stinson cracked a two run double in the first, and Connor Burns launched a two run homer. Everything was pointing towards an emphatic Orleans game one win.
Things began to get dicey in the bottom of the fifth. Cole Reynolds, who has been stellar of late, looked more like the Cole Reynolds we saw earlier in the summer when he came out for the fifth. A flurry of walks and singles forced Kelly Nicholson to go to fellow left hander Collin Kramer much earlier than he would have liked. Kramer didn’t fare much better, in fact he fared worse. On the first pitch Kramer threw, Long Beach State first baseman Johnny Long launched a grand slam to right field. In the blink of an eye, a comfortable 10-3 lead became an ominous 10-7 margin.
It didn’t get better from there.
A single up the middle and a walk chased Kramer from the ballgame before he’d recorded an out. Y-D then got a run closer on an RBI single before Kramer was lifted for Tommy Hopfe. Hopfe escaped without allowing further damage, but the home half of the sixth was just as bad for him.
After loading the bases with nobody out, Hopfe induced a force out at home and a shallow fly out to put him on the verge of an all time Houdini act. Then, Cole Carrig made what at the time looked to be his most noteworthy contribution to Thursday night’s action. He smoked a two out two run double to tie the game. That was followed by another two RBI double. Before anyone could blink Y-D had put up Nine unanswered runs to take the 12-10 lead.
“You gotta give them credit, they hit. They got 17 hits tonight,” Nicholson said. “We wanted to get to Chris Clark and Ryan Bourrassa but that didn’t work out. Things didn’t work out.”
When the game is resumed tomorrow, Orleans will have the top of its order up with three outs to play with. Y-D leads 12-11.
When asked if he expects there to be more fireworks tomorrow, Nicholson said he’s ready for anything.
“If there are, I'll be right in the middle of it.”
Lots of baseball tomorrow, we’ll just have to wait and see if that’s all it will be.