By: Cole Bradley
ORLEANS, Mass- Trae Harmon (Stetson) was sour following a Friday night walk-off loss to the Bourne Braves.
The big first baseman hit two long foul balls that night with nothing to show for it, but on Monday he got sweet revenge. On the third pitch of his second at-bat he uncorked a three-run homer off of Kelsey Ward (Embry-Riddle) to extend the Orleans Firebirds lead to 6-0.
“It felt really good to finally catch one and get extended,” Harmon said. “It felt nice after I snapped my bat the last time we played Bourne.”
The second of two three-run shots helped propel Orleans to a thrilling 10-5 win over the Braves, handing them a second straight loss. The Firebirds played one of their more complete games of the summer, aided by a strong performance from Nathan Florence (Hartford) and Zack Morris (Arkansas).
After an 11-pitch first inning, Florence rattled off three additional no-hit innings of work, fanning three and walking two. Florence has pitched to the tune of a 1.08 ERA, surrendering just three hits in 8.1 frames of work.
“The level of comfort I have being a starter and getting into my routine is always good,” Florence said. “Normally I’m a strikeout pitcher, so our plan of attack was to get ahead and just go right at them and try and force a swing.”
The Orleans bullpen was shut down, totaling eight strikeouts with no walks, an upgrade after walking nine a night ago.
Morris has molded into one of the more reliable pieces in the Orleans pen, tossing two more scoreless frames after giving up a run the last time he faced Bourne.
Across his last three outings, Morris has thrown 9.1 innings and has only given up one run, surrendering six hits in those appearances.
“I thought my last outing against Bourne was kinda iffy,” Morris said. “Coming back today it was really good to be able to come out and get guys out.”
The Firebirds set the tone right away, plating three in the first on Tyler Locklear’s (VCU) ninth home run of the summer off of left-hander Jake Bennett (Oklahoma). In his previous five appearances, Bennett hadn’t given up more than two runs all summer.
Orleans tagged 10 hits against a quartet of Braves arms after struggling in the early going in the previous tilt with Bourne. In the first inning alone, Orleans knocked four hits.
“A lot of guys were on fastballs, putting the ball in-play and not striking out,” Harmon said. “It feels good to get a good win against a good ballclub. It’s nice to be out in front early so you’re not chasing a comeback.”
Despite a four spot in the seventh from Bourne that included a three-run dinger from Colby Thomas (Mercer), Nick Wallerstedt (Arizona State) and Jared Southard (Texas) teamed-up for the final six outs. The win snapped a three game losing streak to wrap up the homestand for Orleans.
The win puts Orleans at (11-13-4) with a matchup against the Brewster Whitecaps awaiting them on Tuesday afternoon at Stony Brook Field. First pitch is scheduled for 4:00 pm as Orleans continues to try and keep it’s season alive.