By Jack Loder
If this were late February and the Orleans Firebirds were a Division I collegiate team, the postgame vibe would have been much different than what it was on Thursday night. After falling 7-2 at home to Brewster in a contest that again featured quiet bats on the part of the home team, players and coaches alike maintained a quiet confidence in themselves.
“Everybody went home for a week, week and a half. I think It’s going to take a little bit of time,” shortstop Jacob Wilson said with a nonchalant grin. “The time will come when our barrels will start finding holes. No one is panicked, we’re about to get really hot.”
Make no mistake, no one in red and black was satisfied with Thursday’s result. The loss drops Orleans to 1-2-1, and highlighted the team’s most glaring issues through four games. The Firebirds have struggled to put together rallies, and to cash in with a big timely hit. Luke Keaschall’s homer in the season opener is still Orleans’ only Long ball.
“The game was a lot closer than the score indicated,” Kelly Nicholson said. “We struck out way too many times tonight, I think we punched out 13 or 14 times tonight. We didn’t play great defense or have great at bats. Brewster played better they deserved to win tonight.”
Nicholson has also noted that the arms are usually substantially ahead of the bats in the early part of the Cape League season.
“Guys haven’t consistently seen these types of arms during their seasons,” he said. “They’re also getting used to swinging wood bats. It took me quite a while to understand it but that’s the way it normally is.”
In the top half of the third inning, Brewster flexed its muscles and showed why they are the league’s defending champions. Without the aid of a devastating blow, the White Caps killed the Firebirds with a thousand cuts. Six singles in the inning accounted for five runs, two of them plated a pair of runs. Firebirds starter Shane Telfer began the inning after tossing two nearly flawless innings, but the damage was done by the time he was lifted for Bryce Warrecker with just one out and three runs already in. Warrecker didn’t fare much better, allowing two more of Telfer’s runs to score before surrendering one of his own in the top of the fourth.
There were, of course, some bright spots in the loss. Left-handed pitcher Kyle Carr made his Firebirds debut and was masterful in his first inning before allowing a run in his second. AJ Blubaugh made his second appearance of the season and turned in his second strong outing. Although Thursday wasn’t as dazzling on the mound as other early season pitching performances, the bullpen depth of Orleans was still evident.
Another bright spot in this one was Jacob Stinson’s left field defense. In the top of the seventh, he tracked a deep fly back towards the wall. Just when it seemed like the towering shot would get out, Stinson leaped and robbed it, crashing into the chain link fence and making a spectacular play. Stinson didn’t want his glove to upstage his arm, and two batters later he showed it off. A tagging White CAP scampered home on a fly ball to medium deep left center field, but Stinson’s one hop seed to the plate cut him down.
“I dont get many chances for outfield assists,” Stinson said. “So that was a really cool inning. Sometimes I black out on plays like that. I just see ball and think I gotta go catch this.”
The Firebirds will look to get back to .500 on Friday, as they head to Y-D for a road game with the Red Sox.