By: Cole Bradley
ORLEANS, Mass- Pitchers duels normally make for some exciting evenings, and the Orleans Firebirds have had their fair share.
Jonathan Cannon’s (Georgia) gem leading to a scoreless tie against Y-D in late June and Max Rajcic’s (UCLA) stellar performance against Evan Shawver (Cincinnati) the following night against Harwich also stand out.
Of all the good pitching performances so far this summer for Orleans, Patrick Reilly’s (Vanderbilt) first two outings as a Bird are right up there with the best.
“I didn’t have the cutter today, which I did have more control of last week,” Reilly said. “Staying aggressive with the fastball and using the slider as a back door option and mixing in the changeup was helpful.”
In his first outing in front of the home faithful, Reilly dominated the Brewster Whitecaps, going five one-hit frames. He replicated his first start in Harwich, surrendering two-fewer hits with five punchouts.
While Reilly’s outing impressed, Luke Keaschall (San Francisco) stole the show, driving in six of Orleans' eight runs in a thrilling 8-6 victory over the Brewster Whitecaps.
The pitching was phenomenal early on, as Brewster’s Teddy McGraw (Wake Forest) went toe-to-toe with Reilly through the first four innings.
He impressed through his first three innings, only allowing one unearned run on a Tyler Locklear (VCU) RBI single in the third. He ran into trouble the next inning, loading the bases for Keaschall, who came to the plate with two outs in the inning.
On a 3-2 count, Keaschall subsequently unloaded the bases with a blast over the leftfield wall, sending the Eldredge Park crowd into a euphoric state. The grand slam knocked McGraw out of the game for good.
“He got me in my first two at-bats and I was happy to get him in that third one,” Keaschall said. “He hung the up-and-in slider and my hands got to it in time.”
In nine games with Orleans, Keaschall has made an immediate impact, hitting at a .353 clip with a pair of homers and 11 RBI. His grand slam was followed by the biggest hit of the game, a two-run game-winning triple in the eighth.
His three-bagger came after a Brewster grand slam in the top half of the inning that gave the Whitecaps a 6-5 lead late.
“I kept it in the back of my mind that I was trying to drive something the opposite way,” Keaschall said. “I wanted something middle-away and I finally got that pitch and got some good wood on it.”
Newcomer Jared Southard (Texas) shut the door in the ninth after inheriting the bases loaded jam in the eighth where he gave up the slam to Will Simpson (Washington). He responded with three strikeouts in the final frame to lock down Orleans’ second consecutive win.
“That kid made a good swing on the pitch, I don’t know how he hit it,” Southard said. “My teammates pulled through to help us get the win. It felt good to get settled in and see what the Cape is about.”
Orleans now sits at (10-10-4), still good for only fourth in the East Division but with a rematch against the Cape League-best Bourne Braves waiting on Friday, the Birds have the hot hand. The East-West showdown is slated for 6:00pm at Doran Park.