By: Cole Bradley
ORLEANS, Mass- In a season defined by offensive inconsistencies for the Orleans Firebirds, they ended the season series against Chatham on low note.
While Orleans wasn’t helped by some staunch Chatham defense, the Firebirds got close but failed to top the Anglers in a 3-2 loss on Sunday. Orleans finishes the summer 1-4 against the rival Anglers, dropping each of the final three contests.
“That’s a typical Cape League game,” Head coach Kelly Nicholson said. “It seems like when I first got up here, games were 1-0, 2-1 or 3-2 all the time. If you scored five or six runs it was a slugfest. Tonight was just a good baseball game.”
Chatham outfielders Garrett Martin (McLennan) and Matthew Hogan (Vanderbilt) each made spectacular catches, Martin’s in particular to rob a homer from Chase DeLauter (James Madison) proved huge going forward.
That momentum carried over into the offense, fueling a pair of homers from Nolan McLean (Oklahoma State) and Dominic Tamez (Alabama) in the effort. Both homers came off of right-hander Orion Kerkering (USF), who impressively struck out nine Chatham batters in five solid innings.
The reliever-turned-starter finished his summer with 22 strikeouts in 18.2 innings or work.
“I had told Troupe that I wanted to be a starter toward the end of the summer,” Kerkering said. “I felt really good and I think it was a quality start, it was really just the two line drives that went over the fence.”
Jake Saum (UCLA) came out of the pen and went the rest of the way, dominating his way through four one-hit innings of work with eight strikeouts. It is certainly his best outing of the summer, keeping Orleans within a run for the entirety of his outing.
“That was kinda building up all season, my goal was to come out here and gain confidence and I think this whole summer led to that,” Saum said.
Chatham struck out 18 times on the night, as Saum iced the cake with a trio of punchouts in the ninth. Chatham went hitless for 3.2 innings before Max Romero Jr. (Vanderbilt) finally tagged a single to left for Chatham’s fifth hit.
“It was very fastball dominant tonight but I’m never going to blow it by guys,” Saum said. “We were very defined with going out and working back in. I feel like my location was helping me miss bats more tonight.”
The Anglers still managed to find a way to win, and thanks to five solid innings from Cy Nielson (BYU) along with 3.2 innings with six strikeouts Bryce Osmond (Oklahoma State).
The Firebirds plated both of their runs on a Jeff Costello (Northeastern) single to left field, which was all they would get. Orleans threatened in the ninth, as Jared McKenzie (Baylor) found a way into scoring position with two outs but Luke Keaschall (San Francisco) grounded out to end it.
The Firebirds have lost four straight, their longest losing streak this season.
Orleans has one final home game remaining against the Harwich Mariners, the same team that the Firebirds opened up the season against at Eldredge Park. First pitch against the Mariners is set for 6:30 pm.