By Jack Loder
There were a number of ways Orleans could have come out on top in its game at Chatham on Saturday night. The Firebirds carried a no hitter into the sixth inning, had opportunities to expand an early 1-0 lead and even had the middle of its order due up in the top of the ninth of a tie game.
Instead, it was the Anglers storming the field in the bottom of the ninth when Cooper Ingle’s line drive to center field plated the winning run. Reliever Shane Telfer took the loss, hitting the inning’s leadoff batter with a fastball before allowing him to advance on a wild pitch. The bitter loss drops Orleans to 10-12-3 on the year.
“They just played a little bit better than we did tonight. They made fewer mistakes and just did what it took to get it done,” Kelly Nicholson said. “You can’t give away free bases like that and expect to win in this league.”
Travis Honeyman has been dormant since returning from a three game absence due to an illness early last week. His mini slump, and it is just that, has seemed bigger than it is due to the importance of his production during the first half as a whole. Honeyman made himself heard once again on Saturday night, blasting a game tying solo shot in the top of the eighth inning. The Boston College outfielder turned on a 2-1 breaking ball and parked a towering shot to left field. There was never truly a doubt during the flight of Honeyman’s fourth homer of the year.
“Felt great to get that done there. Needed that. Obviously it would have been better to get the win but that felt good,” Honeyman said. “I was feeling really sorry for myself the last three days, which never gets you anywhere in baseball. My brother sent me a text that really woke me up.”
Honeyman declined to share what was said in the text, but Firebirds fans can surely hope there is more where that came from.
For the most part, Donye Evans’ success on the mound has come without much resistance from the opposition. Aside from one start in which he allowed one run in three innings, the Vanderbilt right hander has shut out Cape Cod league lineups with relative ease. The bottom line was no different on Saturday night, but the path certainly was.
After retiring the first batter he faced in the bottom of the first, Evans walked the bases loaded, slinging multiple pitches to the backstop in the process. While Chatham looked poised to take an early lead, Evans settled in with the flip of a switch. He got a big strikeout with one down, then induced an inning-ending comebacker. The quick momentum shift would Carry Evans through the duration of another stellar outing. His impressive final line boasted four innings of shutout baseball without surrendering a single base hit.
“I loved it. I loved the way he threw the ball tonight,” Nicholson said of Evans. “He bounced back and got out of it in that first inning and then retired 10 straight batters. That was a tremendous performance by him.
Before the big homer, Honeyman got back to his rally starting ways in the fourth inning on Saturday, ripping a double down the left field line to begin the frame. The red hot bat of Nate Furman didn’t wait long to draw first blood, as he laced a run scoring double of his own down the first base line.
For most of the contest, it looked like that one run would hold. As much as I’ve harped on the Firebirds’ offensive struggles, Chatham has been decidedly worse. One pitcher they’ve had success against this season is Cole Reynolds. Nicholson showed faith in Reynolds Saturday after the left hander had a poor showing in the July 4 loss at this same yard. While the results weren’t as bad this time around, Chatham was still able to turn the tide against Reynolds. The Anglers scored twice in the bottom of the seventh to take a 2-1 lead. The second run scored on a dribbler up the first base line that Reynolds fielded and attempted to flip to Keaschall at first. The toss was late, allowing the run to score and leaving Reynolds in a face first heap in foul territory. He slammed his fist against the turf, symbolic of his pair of outings at Veterans Field this summer.
“We have a lot of confidence in Cole Reynolds, especially with all those left handed bats in their lineup,” Nicholson said. “I think we have to help Cole out a little bit more on defense and we didn’t.”
Each of the Firebirds’ 12 losses have stung, but some require a heavier dose of neosporin than others. Saturday night’s defeat falls under that category.