By: Cole Bradley
ORLEANS, Mass- If it’s indeed the last Orleans Firebirds fans will see of Jace Jung (Texas Tech) on the Cape, he left on a good note.
“I just wanted to do everything I could for this team,” Jung said. “If I return it will depend on how my body feels.”
On the third pitch of his second at-bat Tuesday night with the bases loaded, Jung blasted a 101 mph rocket to the left-center field gap, sending it over the fence for Orleans’ second grand slam of the summer. His methodical trip around the bases sends him to Team USA on a high note, after struggling in his first seven Cape League outings.
“I just got a good pitch and put a good swing on it and it happened to fall my way and get out of the park,” Jung said. “It was a huge momentum shift.”
While Jung and Jordan Sprinkle (UC Santa Barbara) join their new squads riding high, the Firebirds can’t say the same, as the Wareham Gatemen had everything working offensively, cruising to a 10-4 win. The Birds have scored a total of six runs in their last three games.
The Gatemen came in after being shut out by Brewster on Sunday and tying Y-D the following night, looking for the same success they had against Orleans last Friday. It didn’t take very long for them to break out, after stranding a pair of runners in the first against opener Chase DeLauter (James Madison), they took control in the third against Conner Thurman (San Diego).
“That first inning for Thurman he looked really good, and was able to right away command his offspeed,” Pitching coach Matt Troupe said. “A lot of things went down in that third inning, that’s where this theme of not being able to command the offspeed started. As a staff in the first five innings we had 28 offspeed pitches for balls and 26 for strikes.”
The Gatemen dropped a six spot in the third inning on three hits and just as many walks along with one hit-by-pitch. Wareham sent 11 men to the plate in the frame, as Jim Jarvis (Alabama) capped it off with a two-run single.
Orleans didn’t have the same flare defensively either, committing a season-high four errors.
It got worse in the fifth, when first baseman Angelo DiSpigna (Mercer) started off the inning with a solo homer before the Gatemen added their final two runs in the same frame.
“We made far too many mistakes on the mound and on defense tonight,” Troupe said. “The biggest stat of the night was ten hits for Wareham, nine of them off fastballs.”
One of the lone bright spots for the Firebirds proved to be right-handers Michael Polk (Georgia) and Nick Wallerstedt (Arizona State), who combined to go 4.1 scoreless while striking out four.
“I just found it a little more today,” Polk said. “It felt easier.”
The Firebirds ended the night striking out 1-2-3 against Paul Skenes (Air Force), who punched out 30 batters this past spring in just over 26 innings out of the bullpen.
The Birds will travel to Cotuit to face the Kettleers on Wednesday, a matchup they have already won to begin the season.