By: Cole Bradley
CHATHAM, Mass- In a final matchup against the Chatham Anglers from Veterans Field, the Orleans Firebirds once again had no answers.
After jumping out to a quick lead, the Firebirds struggled to add on throughout while the Anglers took full advantage, plating a run in three consecutive innings at one point en route to a 5-3 win on Saturday. The Firebirds have gone 4-6 over their last 10 games and they will have to win-out to finish at .500.
Orleans nabbed two in the first on an RBI double from Trae Harmon (Stetson). The Firebirds ran seven to the plate in the opening inning, running Chatham starter Alexander McFarlane (Miami) into an early hole with his pitch count to set the tone.
McFarlane settled in for the following four innings, only allowing one additional run on two hits. Hee struck out four and walked three in what was his seventh appearance of the season.
His opposite number, Max Rajcic (UCLA), made his final start of the summer and went five innings giving up three earned runs on six hits. His road to become a starter after an All-American season as a closer started well, as he finished the season with a respectable 4.32 ERA in 25 frames of work.
“I can take a lot of things away from this summer and build off of those things starting in the fall,” Rajcic said. “I feel like this outing my new pitch, the changeup was the best it’s been this summer and I improved a lot with that pitch.”
Chatham’s offense led by Nolan McLean (Oklahoma State) plated four before Rajcic’s night ended. Mclean had a pair of RBI base hits, plating the go-ahead run in the fifth to make it 4-3 Anglers.
Josh Rivera (Florida) tagged an RBI double in the first to initially crack the scoreboard as well.
Orleans didn’t have the same timeliness at the plate, something that was especially true in the sixth when they loaded the bases with one out and failed to cash in a run. Garret Guillemette (USC) and Jared McKenzie (Baylor) both went down to retire the side leaving the Firebirds empty-handed.
Overall Orleans stranded ten runners on the night due to shutdown relief efforts from Sebastian Keane (Northeastern) and Kade Bragg (Weatherford College).
“Every pitcher here is really good,” Harmon said. “Everyone should know that the Cape Cod League is the cream of the crop.”
Harmon and Chase DeLauter (James Madison) were a couple lone bright spots for the Firebirds, combining to reach base six times on four hits and two walks. The two of them provided all the run support for Orleans as well.
“I feel like I have started to hit a stride and I’m really comfortable in the box,” Harmon said. “I think I’ve been confident on both sides of the ball which helps carry me through games and perform well.”
Chatham added a fifth run in the eighth on a ground-rule double from Jake DeLeo (Georgia Tech) before the night ended, adding some needed insurance for Bragg to finish it off in the ninth.
The Firebirds will play game two of a home-and-home series against the Anglers on Sunday at Eldredge Park, first pitch is slated for 7:00 pm.