By Brendan Nordstrom
Some games are good. Some games are bad. Some games — such as Thursday evening’s contest — are ugly.
The Firebirds struck first, but Hyannis scored 15-straight runs in a game that saw three Harbor Hawks home runs and two Orleans position players take the mound.
Manager Kelly Nicholson had a clear message after the game:
“We shouldn’t have played the last two innings. The Cape League should have a mercy rule,” Nicholson said. “And not having it is a lack of common sense on the league.”
It’s a game the Firebirds (16-15) will want to flush as pitching, batting and fielding couldn’t come together in the 15-5 defeat.
“It’s just one of those games,” catcher Owen Carapellotti said. “They were just making adjustments on pitches. It just wasn’t our day.”
The Firebirds drew the first blood. And, they did so from the first pitch. Second baseman Jo Oyama took the first ball he saw to the deepest part of cavernous Eldredge for his league-leading sixth triple of the season — a Firebirds record. Shortstop Drew Faurot grounded out to score Oyama for an early tally.
With two outs in the same inning, the Firebirds began to rally. First baseman Matt Halbach hit a laser up the middle that knocked Hyannis starting pitcher Jack O’Conner’s glove clean off. Then, designated hitter Eddie Micheletti Jr. hit a single of his own before right fielder Fenwick Trimble walked to load the bases.
Carapellotti lined a single under the third baseman’s glove to drive in the second run. With the bases still loaded, center fielder Colin Tuft worked a long, competitive at-bat, but he, and the other three base runners, walked back to the dugout following a looking strike three.
If the Firebirds drew first blood, the Harbor Hawks slashed back — and cut deep. Hyannis center fielder Will Taylor hit a loud no-doubt solo home run over the left-field wall to start it off.
Starting pitcher Sam Hliboki fell apart from there, walking the next batter and allowing two hits thereafter. Another walk and a two-RBI double by Zach Yorke made way for debuting Orleans reliever Colton Sundloff.
An error by Faurot trying to cut the run at home and a single gave Hyannis a commanding 6-2 lead.
“A little bit of what affected it was them punching bag,” Carapellotti said. “When we go down 1-2-3 after they put up six, all the momentum is for them. We just couldn’t overcome.”
Hyannis kept their foot on the gas, now letting their power do the talking. A lead-off walk was followed by Yorke’s 360-foot trot around the bases. Brandon Eike then launched a ball to deep left-center field that Tuft leaped over the fall in an attempt to catch it, but he was unable to come up with it, giving the Harbor Hawks a 9-2 lead.
And, they just kept rolling. Hyannis tacked on three insurance runs in the seventh thanks to three hits and back-to-back walks.
Then, it turned ugly. Two position players — Tuft and Brandon Stahlman — took the mound for Orleans in the eighth, and Hyannis scored three runs for the third-straight inning.
“Once you get down, it’s hard to hit,” Carapellotti said. “I’m proud of the way we scratched a couple across at the end, and like coach said, you just got to flush it.”
Carapellotti hit a solo home run — his first of the summer — into the Firebirds’ bullpen, while Stahlman and Halbach hit RBI singles to give the team momentum heading into tomorrow’s doubleheader against the Chatham Anglers. Game 1 will begin at 3:00 p.m. at Eldredge Park with the nightcap beginning 45 minutes after its conclusion.
“I wish it was in a bigger spot or in a closer game but definitely not going to complain about getting runs,” Carapellotti said about his home run. “Hopefully I’m able to contribute somehow tomorrow in a more competitive game.”