By: Cole Bradley
BOURNE, Mass- The two matchups the Orleans Firebirds have had against the Bourne Braves this season have been nothing short of electric.
In an entertaining first contest, pitching dominated, leading to a 2-2 tie at Eldredge Park on July 6. The latter of the two was much the same, but it bore heartbreaking results.
With a chance to tie after a Peyton Chatagnier (Mississippi) solo home run in the ninth off of flamethrowing right-hander Eric Adler (Wake Forest), the Braves walked it off the following half.
“That guy was really good, it’s tough to hunt a fastball against a guy like that,” Chatagnier said. “Luckily he threw one that I could get to and I got a good swing off it.”
After not having allowed a run since his first outing on the summer, Nick Wallerstedt (Arizona State) gave up a walk-off RBI single to Peter Burns (Boston College), handing Bourne win no. 20 on the summer.
The Birds got yet another stellar outing from Hayden Thomas (Texas A&M Corpus Christi). The Cape League All-Star went five innings of one-run ball against arguably the best lineup on the Cape.
“I always love to compete against the best,” Thomas said. “You can see why Bourne is as good as they are, they don’t give away free outs and you really got to make good pitches.”
He went five innings giving up six hits with five strikeouts, holding the Braves bats stagnant after a first inning RBI double from Braylen Wimmer (South Carolina). Thomas has been the ace of the Orleans staff, lowering his season ERA to 2.14 in his fifth appearance so far this summer.
“When he went third time through the order he beat them with changeups,” head coach Kelly Nicholson said. “It was good to see him change his game plan there. I’m super happy for him, he competes and he’s a great teammate.”
Before an hour-long rain delay, Orleans looked off-balance against Braves starter Austin Parsley (UNC Greensboro), who has been a part of a pitching staff that has only surrendered 66 runs as a whole. Parsley’s lone blemish came at the hands of Tyler Locklear (VCU), who blasted his third homer in five games to tie the game at one in the fourth.
Parsley departed after five innings, notching seven punchouts in the winning effort and walking his first batter of the season.
“Bourne played a little bit better than us tonight, the reason they’re so good is because they don’t walk anybody,” Nicholson said. “You look at their numbers and they’re crazy and that’s why Bourne has been doing so good.”
Luke Keaschall (San Francisco) continued his impressive offensive pace with a 4-for-5 night at the plate, driving home the go-ahead run in the seventh on a single. Keaschall has raised his average on the season to .410, replacing Rhylan Thomas (USC) with ease at the top of the Firebird order.
The Firebirds will be back in action on Sunday to start a three-game homestand against Wareham, Hyannis and Bourne in order. First pitch is slated for 7:00 pm at Eldredge Park.