By Brendan Nordstrom
It is the eleventh plague, and it’s been ailing the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer.
Eddie Micheletti Jr. hit a home run into the haze against Brewster on June 22. Closer Sean Matson shut down the Y-D in the 10th inning as fog rolled into Red Wilson Field. A back-and-forth flashy 5-5 game against Chatham was halted in the bottom of the fourth due to a disappearing pop fly.
Saturday’s game was not spared.
With the Commodores holding a 3-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, fog paraded into Eldredge Park as it dutifully has for most of the summer, taking the bullpens and outfield grass as hostages.
“The outfield grass and above gets really bad,” third baseman Jack Penney said. “Whenever the ball is up in the air, we probably need three guys to talk and try to find it.”
Around 8:02 p.m., the umpires huddled, breaking it with the decision to delay the contest indefinitely.
“You can’t control the weather, right?” manager Kelly Nicholson said. “I’m glad Falmouth agreed to keep going.”
The whisps retreated nearly 30 minutes later to put the players back on the diamond.
Falmouth reliever Kassius Thomas recorded the first two outs of the sixth before the effects of the delay wore in — walking three Firebirds on 12-straight balls. However, Orleans couldn’t capitalize.
The Commodores could. An infield single and a walk to lead off the seventh inning set up third baseman Travis Bazzana. Bazzana stopped after the ball left his bat and stared. Right fielder Fenwick Trimble took half a step before realizing it was futile to run after a monster 401-foot, three-run home run for a 6-1 lead.
Orleans tried to respond by way of a Penney no-doubter two-run shot, but the Firebirds (10-12) couldn’t summit the steep deficit, falling 6-3 in a game filled with missed opportunities.
“It was a weird one,” Penney said. “We just battled through the fog after that, but it was a weird game, back and forth, up and down. We had guys on base, couldn’t really capitalize.”
The Firebirds left 12 runners on base, earning seven walks, but could not take advantage.
“We just need to focus in more and just really try to have our best at-bats when we have runners on base. It’s pretty important in this league to scratch a few runs early,” Penney said. “Our offense is pretty good. We get some hits, but we’re just not getting those timely hits.”
Despite an error proving costly in the Firebirds' 5-0 loss to the Harwich Mariners yesterday, Orleans benefitted from three in the first inning to score the game’s first run.
First baseman Johnny Olmstead hit a routine ground ball to third base, but Bazzana fumbled with the ball and threw the ball well too high to first, putting Olmstead on second. Then, designated hitter Matt Halbach hit a sharp ground ball to shortstop, but Kyle DeBarge threw the ball in the dirt and Halbach beat out the throw, scoring Olmstead.
The Commodores responded with a crooked third frame, beginning with a lead-off walk from Orleans starter Sam Hliboki — the third-straight inning the lead-off man reached. Bazzana cranked a ball down the left field line for a double to put two runners in scoring position. DeBarge scored one on a hard-hit single to center, pulling Hliboki, who was replaced by lefty Derek Clark.
After hitting the first batter with his first pitch, a double play scored Falmouth’s second run and a single into center field scored their third.
None of those runs went on Clark’s account, however, as the West Virginia transfer was lights out in his long relief. Clark went four full frames, allowing only two hits. There were no tallies in the walks or earned run column either.
“Anytime you have Derek Clark on the mound, you have a lot of confidence that he’s going to keep you in the game, and he did,” Nicholson said.
The Commodores had a quiet middle three frames before the fog delay put the game on hold for 30 minutes.
Reliever Riley Frey entered the game for Orleans in the bottom of the seventh and let the first two runners in the inning reach. Bazzana launched a moon shot onto the hill well past right field. Bazzana would hit a triple in the ninth inning to complete the cycle on a more-than-successful night at the plate.
“We just didn’t recover from that,” Nicholson said. “We were chasing five runs. It’s hard late in this league to chase five.”
They tried, though. Jack Penney took a fastball off Thomas onto the roof of the bandstand past right field for a two-run home run in the seventh.
“I’m not trying to do too much,” Penney said. “I’m really just trying to pass it onto the next guy, usually good things happen.”
It wouldn’t be enough as the Firebirds fell 6-3 for their second-straight loss.
The Firebirds will hit the road tomorrow against the Cotuit Kettleers at Lowell Park for a 5 p.m. first pitch, where they will look to get back on track.