By: Cole Bradley
ORLEANS, Mass- If the Orleans Firebirds have done anything through the first full week of the 2021 Cape League season, it’s pitch.
Through the first five games, Orleans starters have a combined 4.11 ERA, which is misleading considering three of those starters haven’t given up runs. Regardless, 20 strikeouts in 17 innings with only four walks tell more of the story.
“They’re good, it’s not surprising what they did tonight,” Head coach Kelly Nicholson said. “You have the tale of two stories with Y-D. Both sides did a good job pitching tonight.”
That trend continued on Sunday, as Orleans played game two of a home and home series against the Y-D Red Sox at Eldredge Park with right-hander Jonathan Cannon (Georgia) toeing the rubber. The Red Sox ran out an ace of their own in Luis Ramirez (Long Beach State) as both teams went punch-for-punch on the mound, neither willing to blink throughout, resulting in a scoreless tie.
The wind blew straight in from centerfield all game, playing a factor in the outcome from the start.
It’s the first tie of the season for Orleans this summer, allowing them to walk away with a point in the East Division standings.
“I talked to Jamie [Quinn] early in the game and said, ‘Hey man we need to play for runs,’ and it’s hard to do that when you only get three hits,” Nicholson said. “You got to tip your cap to those guys.”
Cannon followed up his opening night outing with five shutout innings, handing out only four hits and one walk while striking out three. Once again, he pitched to his defense behind him, getting frequent ground ball outs.
“We got a great infield here and the grass is nice and long so it’s been killing ground balls,” Cannon said. “That’s kinda what I’m trying to do, pitch to contact and let my defense work so I can get deep into games.”
Meanwhile, the Birds offense fell back into a funk, at one point striking out six times in seven at-bats at the hands of Ramirez. The lone baserunner against him was second baseman Jace Jung (Texas Tech) who walloped a triple at 106 mph to deep center before being stranded with no outs in the second.
Jung later walked before Ramirez was finally pulled after six innings of two-hit baseball, striking out seven in the process.
“I’m very happy with my performances, just getting to come out here and play is just a blessing,” Jung said. “I just got to be grateful for the opportunity I’m getting.”
Other than that, a Rhylan Thomas (USC) bloop single proved to be the majority of the offense for Orleans on the evening.
Once Cannon was out of the game, Jake Saum (UCLA) piggy-backed with 3.1 scoreless innings of his own. Outside of a bad outing against Chatham, Saum has yet to allow a run in five innings since.
“He did a great job pitching to contact as well,” Cannon said. “With the wind blowing straight in and that helps the confidence. He did a great job.”
The Birds are home for the next two nights, including Monday night against Harwich. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 pm.