By Brendan Nordstrom
Fenwick Trimble remembered.
Last time he was in the batter’s box against Yarmouth-Dennis left-handed reliever Boston Mabeus, Trimble looked “silly” on a curveball for strike three to end the contest.
On Monday evening, however, the Firebirds were down 4-3 in the top of the eighth. Mabeus was on the mound.
Eddie King Jr. hit a one-out single softly to right field. Brandon Stahlman smacked a rare opposite-field single. Owen Carapellotti worked a long, well-earned full-count walk.
Fenwick Trimble was a pinch hitter, and he remembered.
Mabeus looked for the sign from catcher Ryan Stafford through his glasses as the overcast sky and 1,350-person crowd at Red Wilson Field sat with bated breath for a pitch that would change the course of game one of the East Division Championship.
“Early on in the count, I saw it well and got into a hitter’s count,” Trimble said. “It’s working a good count, and it’ll help pay off.”
Red Wilson Field is a bandbox, sure. But Trimble’s hit was far from cheap.
King, standing at third, pointed toward the outfield, only watching the ball soar 394 feet over the left-field fence. The dugout exploded, waiting to greet all four batters at home plate — Fenwick Trimble had hit the Firebirds first grand slam of the summer, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Fenny came through, man,” manager Kelly Nicholson said. “It was great to see because he’s been working hard all year.”
The Firebirds scratched across another run in the frame, while left-hander Everett Catlett closed out the final six outs of the game to take a crucial 8-4 win in game one of the East Division Championship.
“They’re a really good team, good pitching and good players in their lineup,” Trimble said. “Just toughing it out and be tough for longer is essentially the way it goes.”
These two teams have a lot of history together this season from exchanging blowouts for shutouts to a late-season pennant chase. The rivalry runs deeper between each team’s respective managers as Y-D’s Scott Pickler and Nicholson are two of the winningest managers in Cape history.
“It’s a series to get to the championship, and that’s the ultimate goal,” Nicholson said. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we’re one game away.”
Orleans threatened early on against Red Sox starting right-hander Jason Doktorczyk, who alternated between heavy usage of low-90s fastballs and a lethal off-speed. The last time Doktorczyk faced off against the Firebirds, he threw six innings of scoreless baseball highlighted by an immaculate inning.
He may not have been as effective against the Orleans nine, but he was as close as one can get. In another six-inning outing, he allowed one run, but he also struck out five and induced back-to-back 1-2-3 innings.
The one run came in the second inning after Doktorczyk, who rarely gives away free passes, handed away back-to-back competitive walks to Eddie Micheletti Jr. and Eddie King Jr. to start the frame. A double play threatened to ruin the fun, but Henry Hunter, on the fifth pitch of his at-bat, struck a ball into the four-hole that the shift couldn’t stop to score Micheletti.
On the other end, the Red Sox had to face Firebirds right-handed starter Evan Truitt, who was well-rested entering the contest. Truitt retired the first four batters he faced before allowing a walk to Stafford.
Stafford attempted to take second, however, catcher Hunter had him beaten by a few steps. It was lucky for Orleans to get that out as the next batter, Brady Day, responded with a solo home run over the right-field wall, tying the game at one.
Truitt then allowed back-to-back singles to lead off the third inning, as Skyler King followed it up with a fielder’s choice to take a 2-1 lead.
Then, the Red Sox offense was solely reliant on long balls. In the fourth inning, Zander Darby hit a two-out fly ball to right field that right fielder Jake Casey could only watch.
The Firebirds relieved Truitt in the fifth inning when Catlett entered the contest. Catlett just joined the team last week, only appearing once in the 14-12 loss to Chatham at the end of the season. He was on a “lack of sleep” because of the long drive to Orleans, leading to a less-than-ideal first outing. However, Catlett couldn’t have come through in a bigger spot.
“It’s definitely nice to earn the trust and earn it back after my last outing,” Catlett said. “I got comfortable. Coach let me keep getting the ball. I just did my job.”
The only blemish on Catlett’s outing was when Red Sox power hitter Hunter Hines hit a ball 367 feet into center field for a unicorn home run — a home run that’s only out at Red Wilson.
“Changeup was definitely working for me. I got a little greedy there and threw it two times in a row … and he took advantage,” Catlett said. “I’ve been working on this summer not letting the small things affect you, so I wasn’t too hurt by that.”
Catlett then threw four more innings of scoreless baseball, striking out four and allowing only four hits.
The moment Doktorczyk exited the contest after throwing north of 100 pitches, the Firebirds pounced. Looking down right-handed reliever Pablo Torres, Casey hit a one-out liner into right field. He then took second on a wild pitch before Jo Oyama hit an RBI single past second baseman Day.
Oyama then advanced to third on a Penney fielder’s choice, scoring on another wild pitch from Torres.
“Jo Oyama is the most exciting player in the Cape Cod League,” Nicholson said. “He adds a big boost of energy when he’s doing what Jo Oyama does.”
Trimble hit the grand slam in the top of the eighth to take a commanding 7-4 advantage. Halbach hit an RBI single to score another, and Catlett shut the Red Sox down.
“We were saying in the dugout during the game, for [the 7th, 8th and 9th inning] during games we’re down, we’re Barry Bonds,” Catlett said. “It’s fun, never count ‘em out.”
The Firebirds will have a chance to punch their ticket to the Cape Cod Baseball League Championship tomorrow with game two at Eldredge Park. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
“They want to be here. You don’t find that a lot in summer ball this late in the summer,” Catlett said about the team. “We don’t want to leave yet.”