Nicholson honored pregame before Chatham tops Orleans in slugfest 13-10


Field Manager Kelly Nicholson is honored in a pre-game ceremony by General Manager Sue Horton. RAJ DAS/ ORLEANS FIREBIRDS

By: Cole Bradley


ORLEANS, Mass- Zachary Maxwell (Georgia Tech) found himself in a corner.


The right-hander watched as the Orleans Firebirds plated five runs in the final few innings before he came in to relieve the ninth. He walked in three Firebird runs but was already working with a six run lead coming into the inning.


Maxwell eventually locked-in, retiring Jared McKenzie (Baylor) and Luke Keaschall (San Francisco) in order to end a long 39-pitch outing, helping lead Chatham to a massive 13-10 victory on Wednesday.


Chatham tagged 16 hits in the effort, tagging four home runs in the effort. Every pitcher Orleans ran out including starter Chase DeLauter (James Madison) gave up at least two runs except for Connor Housley (Kennesaw State) who went two scoreless innings in relief.


Starting pitcher and designated hitter Chase DeLauter. HANNAH YOSHINAGA/ ORLEANS FIREBIRDS

DeLauter also blasted a homer in the loss, his ninth of the season.


While the evening definitely wasn’t kind to Orleans, it most certainly bore good tidings for bullpen catcher Michael Chaves Jr. (Worcester State), who was activated prior to the game. Chaves had spent most of the summer out beyond the right field wall at Eldredge Park, but had the chance to catch a pair of innings behind the plate and record a plate appearance.


“I haven't seen live pitching in awhile but I just saw it well,” Chaves said. “They kept throwing me fastballs and pulling them off the plate and I saw it in.”


In his lone trip to the plate, Chaves drew a walk and later came around to score on a Peyton Chatagnier (Mississippi) single in the eighth. For Chaves, the chance to play with some of the best players in the country is nothing short of special.


“I’m not gonna lie, I've come a long way,” Chaves said. “When I first started catching Housley I took one off the thigh and now I’m catching him in-game. It’s a dream come true and it’s every D3 kid's dream to play out here and on this field. These are the best players in the country and I just got to play with them.”


Michael Chaves Jr. talks with teammates after making his Firebirds debut. HANNAH YOSHINAGA/ ORLEANS FIREBIRDS

Another hearty moment came before the first pitch was even thrown, as The Firebirds recognized Head coach Kelly Nicholson prior to the game for his 20 seasons in Orleans. Honorary guests included former Firebird players and coaches such as Chris Beck, Robb Gorr and Chris Constantine.


Former Chatham manager John Schiffner said a few words pregame as well to honor the skipper.


“It was great to see all those guys,” Nicholson said. “They’re some of my dearest friends and it meant a lot for John and them to be here.”


The Firebirds will have their final off-day of the season on Thursday before playing the Y-D Red Sox at home on Friday. First pitch is slated for 7:00 pm at Eldredge Park.


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