By Jack Loder
Sometimes all it takes is a spark. A simple ember catching fire and igniting a hot streak. This is what 2022 has felt like for the Orleans Firebirds. A team that has battled issues at the plate, on the mound, and on the injury list all at separate times still finds itself firmly in playoff contention with less than a week remaining in the regular season. Orleans was in a free fall as recently as three days ago, now two wins in three days have shown what this team is capable of. It was Bryce Warrecker and some late insurance runs that highlighted a huge 9-1 victory over Y-D in Yarmouth on Wednesday afternoon.
“We’ll be ok if we take care of our business like we did today,” Kelly Nicholson said. “A tremendous job by Bryce and a great job late by our bats in this one. Good win.”
In a 0-0 game that featured three total hits through five innings, a Logan Beard sparked rally seemed like the least likely possible outcome. So of course, in this whacky summer, that’s exactly what happened. Beard would be the first to tell you his offensive numbers this summer have been far below his standard. He’s hitting nearly 200 points below his average during the 2022 season at Louisville. None of that mattered when he roped a lead off single to right field to lead off the top of the sixth. Luke Keaschall followed with a base hit of his own. Two batters later, Cam Jones punched a single up the middle that scored two. The Birds would add another in the frame to take a 3-0 lead. A six spot in the top of the ninth put the finishing touches on a big time win, getting the Firebirds one step closer to a playoff berth.
Bryce Warrecker is putting the finishing touches on what has been an incredible summer on the bump. The Cal Poly right hander did exactly what he’s done for the last month and change. He dominated.
Warrecker went a season high seven innings, striking out six while allowing just four hits. His lone surrendered run was unearned and came in the sixth, when Y-D put together a rally with the help of an error. Warrecker showed poise in the frame, minimizing the damage to one run after facing a first and third nobody out situation. He’s been masterful, but you wouldn’t know it from chatting with him.
“Our offense had a tremendous night, and Cole Reynolds did a phenomenal job shuttting the door on this one,” Warrecker said. “Y-D is a phenomenal team, we knew that going in. It was just about making pitches and trusting the guys behind me and Garrett.”
About as humble as he was dominant.
Y-D threatened in the seventh and again in the eighth, putting the tying run on base in each inning. Warrecker escaped the seventh much like he did the sixth, before Cole Reynolds iced the Red Sox in the eighth. Reynolds has enjoyed a bit of a rennaissance in his last few outings. He fell on some hard luck and poor execution for much of July, but has since turned in a pair of spotless outings.
“I just need to focus on what has always worked for me, competing in the zone,” Reynolds said earlier this season after a rough outing.
He’s righted the ship at the right time.
Kelly Nicholson took a moment to recognize Warrecker further, specifically responding to a question regarding whether or not Warrecker has made a case for Cape Cod league pitcher of the year.
“Absolutely, no doubt,” he said. “The umpire came up to him tonight and said it was the best pitched game he’s seen this year. Special special stuff.”
Orleans will need a lot more special down the stretch if they plan on making some noise in August.