By Brendan Nordstrom
Baseball is a three-front war.
Who doesn’t love a pitcher’s duel? Two aces going to head to head, mowing through the order with punchout after punchout.
Fans love a shootout — hard-hit baseballs finding gaps and kids leaving their perch on the Eldredge Park hill to chase after a 350’ home run.
Some games fall into those two categories, and most games are somewhere in the middle.
But, every so often, a third type of game occurs — a game determined by fielding.
That’s exactly the game fans were treated to on Wednesday evening as a combined four errors by both Orleans and Falmouth led to five unearned runs. The unlucky bounces fell more out of the Firebirds’ (7-9) way in the 4-3 decision.
“We didn’t deserve to win,” manager Kelly Nicholson said, motioning toward the scoreboard. “You’re not going to win in this league when you give away three runs to a Cape Cod Baseball League team.”
Just over a week ago, the Firebirds’ win at Brewster helped end a five-game skid, and today, the Commodores ended a five-game losing streak of their own at Eldredge Park. After a 3-2 win over Brewster yesterday, the loss today means Orleans has alternated between a win and a loss over the last six games.
The self-inflicted wounds began as early as the top of the first inning. Commodores center fielder John Spikerman hit a hard infield single off third baseman Jack Penney’s glove to reach on the first pitch of the contest. Starting pitcher Evan Truitt narrowly escaped the jam with a pop fly to centerfield, but it went in and out of Jake Casey’s glove to plate the first run.
Truitt had a quick but effective outing on the mound, tossing three innings of one-hit baseball. It was another bullpen today for Orleans as seven different pitchers took the mound — reminiscent of Sunday’s 5-4 win over Y-D. With the off day tomorrow, Nicholson said he wanted to keep arms fresh.
Left-handed pitcher Chase Lummus was the first arm to exit the bullpen for the Firebirds. Lummus began the top of the fourth by giving up back-to-back singles to shortstop Kyle DeBarge and Tyler MacGregor, respectively. The two Commodores attempted a double steal, but catcher Henry Hunter was able to get MacGregor at second.
“[Lummus] needs to throw more strikes,” Nicholson said. “Chase just needs to work ahead, it makes your job a lot easier.”
With the infield playing in to prevent DeBarge from scoring, a groundball was hit to shortstop Drew Faurot, who threw it past Hunter to score the first run. Lummus then hit the next batter and threw a wild pitch to advance both runners. Nicholson intentionally walked the next batter to set up a double-play opportunity.
The opportunity turned into a reality when a textbook ground ball met second baseman Jo Oyama, who flipped the ball to Faurot for the first out. Faurot’s throw to first was offline and out of play to score two more runs and give Falmouth their fourth run.
“I mean errors happen in baseball. It’s a part of the game, and we just gotta learn from it,” left fielder Andy Blake said. “I have faith in everybody out here.”
The Firebirds got on the board in the third frame when Casey was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. That was followed by Faurot working a four-pitch walk and Oyama also walking to load the bases. A passed ball scored Casey for Orleans’ first run of the game.
Right fielder Eddie Micheletti Jr. walked to reload the bases, but the Firebirds stranded three to add to their daily total of eight.
The Firebirds tacked on another in the fifth inning when Blake ripped a one-out single to the left side, advancing on a wild pitch. It was Blake’s second hit of the day.
“I was seeing the ball well tonight,” Blake said. “I was seeing the spin … and I was picking it up early, and I was able to put good swings on the ball.”
Designated hitter Matt Halbach reached second on a throwing error by Falmouth’s shortstop that flew over the first baseman’s head, scoring Blake.
Orleans battled back within one in the bottom of the ninth when Fenwick Trimble skied a one-out ball over the wall in left field, narrowly clearing the scoreboard. However, a groundout and a strikeout ended any hope for the home team.
The Firebirds return to Eldredge Park on Friday against the East division-leading Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox at 6:30 p.m. But first, Orleans has a day off on Thursday.
“I think it will help the team a lot,” Blake said. “It’s a good day to rest and get ready for the stretch of game coming up.”