By Jack Loder
Right fielder Jacob Stinson did everything right when a Bourne fly ball sailed towards right center field with a man on first and no outs in the home half of the sixth. So did Travis Honeyman, who was approaching from his perch in center field. Yet, somehow, the ball fell between the two and Bourne wound up with runners on second and third with nobody out. The Braves then extended a 2-1 lead to 4-1 with a pair of sacrifice flies. The 4-1 Bourne advantage would be chipped into slightly, but Orleans couldn’t manage more than a run and fell 4-2 at Doran Park on Friday night. The loss is Orleans’ first in five games.
One outfielder slipping on damp grass is rare. Two? On the same play? Nearly unheard of. That’s what happened to both Stinson and Honeyman on that fateful sixth inning fly ball and it ended up costing the Birds. Always one to take accountability, Stinson claimed after the game that he did not slip, and that it was just a misread on his part.
“I didn’t really see it well off the bat, broke back instead of breaking right,” Stinson said. “We did a lot of things well tonight, got eight hits, just ended up on the wrong side of it.”
Bourne never trailed in this contest. The Braves scored a run in the bottom of the first inning off of Firebird starter Kyle Carr, manufacturing their first of four runs with a flurry of singles. Carr bounced back, turning in two scoreless innings to keep Orleans squarely in the ballgame. All night long, however, Firebird hitters were kept at bay by a talented Bourne pitching staff.
“They played really well tonight. Especially their pitchers,” Kelly Nicholson said. “Sometimes you have to give credit where it’s due, and they really executed on the mound tonight.”
The Firebirds answered Bourne’s early tally with a two out rally in the third. Travis Honeyman, who has been the spark plug of the Orleans offense all summer long, laced a double down the left field line with two outs and nobody on. Nate Furman followed him with a walk, setting the stage for Mr. Team USA in Jacob Wilson. Wilson made sure to leave his mark before departing for the collegiate national team, ripping a double past the dive of Braves third baseman Wyatt Hensler down the third base line, scoring Honeyman to tie the game at one. Honeyman’s two bagger was his league high seventh extra base hit of the summer. It’s hard to overstate how important the Boston College center fielder has been for Orleans thus far.
Aside from the RBI double to get Orleans on the board, Jacob Wilson had an especially costly night at the dish. He grounded into rally killing double plays in the first and seventh innings, both with one out and two runners on base. Orleans wasn’t able to threaten much outside if their run scoring frames and the first and seventh, a symptom of offensive futility that has plagued the group early in the year.
“We got eight hits but you know we didn’t get a timely hit,” Nicholson said. “We didn’t play poorly, we just didn’t play well enough to win.”
The Firebirds added their only other run in the top half of the seventh prior to Wilson’s inning ending double play. Shortstop Nik McClaughry picked up his first hit of the summer, flipping a soft line drive into short right field with one out. He came around to score on a Nate Furman single later in the inning. Unfortunately for Orleans, Jacob Wilson’s second inning ending double play of the night extinguished the Firebird hopes of clawing all the way back one batter later. A one two three eighth inning was followed by a lackluster ninth, securing the Firebirds first loss in nearly a week.
All four Bourne runs were earned, but Ben Shields was certainly victimized by some bad luck in this one. He was responsible for both sixth inning runs but only gave up one true hit in the inning. The fly ball to right center field goes in the books as a hit, but it was one that looked promising for Orleans off the bat. Shields and Carr combined to toss eight innings, with Carr also surrendering two runs. Shane Telfer pitched the home half of the eighth, successfully pitching around a walk and a base hit to keep the deficit at two.
As is usually the case, Nicholson was quick to turn the page. He’s been around this league long enough to know which losses have deeper meanings than others. This one was not one of them.
“We’re going to talk really quickly, maybe just a minute tonight,” Nicholson said. “Sometimes it’s best to just flush it and get to the next day, we got a bus leaving at 2:30 tomorrow.”
That bus will be heading to Harwich.