By Brendan Nordstrom
It sure looked like the home opener for Orleans today.
Fans woke up at 9:00 a.m. to reserve their spot on the hill along the right field fence. Cars driving along S. Orleans Rd. honked during the game’s action. There was even a proposal following the national anthem.
Despite a broken sprinkler erupting on the pitcher’s mound threatening to spoil the fun, baseball was back in Orleans.
After winning a pitcher’s duel in Hyannis yesterday, the Firebirds (1-1) fell to the explosive bats of the Harwich Mariners 10-3 on Sunday evening. Orleans bled 12 hits while only collecting four themselves.
“We got our butts kicked,” Manager Kelly Nicholson said. “It all starts on the mound, and Harwich just hit better than we did.”
While the margin may look large on paper, the game was neck-and-neck up until the seventh inning.
Harwich struck first in the second, beginning with a lead-off double from left fielder Kennedy Jones. Every Harwich hit in their win against the Y-D Red Sox yesterday was a double, and the team added five more tonight. Second baseman Seaver King moved Jones to third on a fielder’s choice, and a pair of hits scored both King and Jones for a 2-0 lead.
The Mariners would tack on a third run in the top of the fourth when Orleans starting pitcher Cam Leiter walked two batters and hit another to load the bases. Harwich catcher Bryan Arendt grounded into a double play, but not before another run crossed.
Leiter went four innings with one strikeout and four walks, along with three earned runs.
“I think Cam Leiter would tell you he was not sharp,” Nicholson said.
Orleans didn’t go quietly, however. In the bottom of the sixth inning, designated hitter Drew Metzdorf reached on a fielder’s choice setting up right fielder Eddie Micheletti Jr.
“I was just trying to do a job for the team,” Micheletti said about stepping into the batter’s box. “It just happened to be a home run.”
Micheletti has been coming to Eldredge Park with his parents since he was seven years old. Living just seven minutes from the stadium, he would sit on the hill and watch the stars of tomorrow take the field. Now he finds himself in those shoes, playing in Orleans colors and even hitting a home run for his childhood team.
“I was almost gonna cry in the moment,” Micheletti said. “It almost makes me emotional that I’m even playing on the field with the guys.”
Lefty Cam Jones relieved Leiter in the fifth inning. If his name looks familiar, it’s because Jones was in the lineup last night as a designated hitter, going 0-2 with a pair of walks. The two-way player allowed only one hit with a strikeout across two innings of work on the mound. Nicholson said Jones will be back tomorrow, but this time on first base.
“He can pitch. He can hit. He can play center field. He can play first base,” Nicholson said. “He’s a very good baseball player. You’ll see that over the course of the summer.”
Despite an incredible catch in foul territory by second baseman Andy Blake in the top of the seventh, the Mariners were able to get the run back, scoring on an error. Harwich piled on two more runs in the eighth for a 6-2 lead.
Orleans designated hitter Jake Casey pinch hit for Metzdorf to lead off the bottom half of the eighth and did so with a bang. Casey took a 1-2 pitch deep into the Firebirds bullpen in right-center field to cut the lead in half.
That’s all Orleans could muster. Harwich, on the other hand, wasn’t finished. The Mariners started the ninth with a parade of five-straight hits, adding on four more runs for insurance. Nine of the ten Mariners who stepped up to the plate earned a hit as Harwich defeated Orleans 10-3.
The Firebirds return to Eldredge Park tomorrow as they face off against the reigning champion Bourne Braves at 6:30 p.m.
“Hey, a brand new day,” Nicholson said. “Bounce back tomorrow.”