By Brendan Nordstrom
Hyannis’ Nick Mitchell took off for third.
Catcher Henry Hunter moved to his left, throwing the ball down, but Mitchell snuck under the tag. However, Mitchell would have to return to second base due to an umpire’s interference.
“That’s a rare call,” hitting coach Max Fecske said. “You see that maybe once a summer, if that.”
Hyannis manager Eric Beattie was upset. Exchanging words with the home plate umpire, Beattie received a warning.
Starting pitcher Ivran Romero recorded a flyout and his second strikeout of the night to close out the third inning. Then, Beattie came out again.
After a brief conversation, Beattie was ejected. That wasn’t all, however. A fan was also ejected, causing a lengthy delay in an already lengthy game.
“Baseball is baseball, and things happen,” Fecske said. “They allowed that to get in the way, but we responded, came right back and put up some runs, and it totally took momentum for us.”
The Firebirds (22-19) scored seven runs in the game’s final six frames to take the season series over the Harbor Hawks with an 11-7 victory that was far less competitive than the score suggested.
The win comes 10 days after Hyannis dominated the Firebirds in an ugly 15-5 contest that had two position players take the mound.
“Nothing changed,” Fecske said. “The thing for our offense recently has been just allowing ourselves to gain momentum as we go through the order.”
The Firebirds started gaining momentum as early as the first inning with All-Star lead-off man Jo Oyama, who hit a fluky infield single off the end of the bat that spun in the shallow infield.
Oyama advanced on a Fenwick Trimble single and a Jack Penney fielder’s choice, eventually scoring on a wild pitch.
“[Oyama] didn’t get his best swing off, but he gets us on base and gets us going in that first inning,” Fecske said. “We kind of never took our foot off the gas from there.”
Orleans kept it rolling in the second thanks to Hyannis starting pitcher Zachary Voelker struggling with his command. Left fielder Colin Tuft started off the frame with a broken-bat single. Then, Hunter walked on four pitches and Oyama walked on five.
Trimble hit a bloop single into shallow center fielder to score Tuft and Penney hit a sacrifice fly to score Hunter. Halbach hit a slow roller up the middle to score Oyama to put the cherry on top of the 4-0 lead.
Romero was shut down in his five innings of work, allowing only three hits to the Harbor Hawks and no runs. It had flashes to Romero’s outing at Harwich on July 13 when he allowed no hits in four frames.
“He sets such a tone for us. He’s been awesome since he got here. He’s been a relentless competitor,” Fecske said. “It’s really allowed our offense to put our foot on the gas and go do our job.”
After the controversial end to the third inning, the Firebirds again took to the bats in the fifth inning when Halbach took a lead-off walk and Eddie King Jr. hit a ball to the deepest part of McKeon Park for a double.
“Eddie King did a great job,” Fecske said. “Just getting good balls to hit and putting good swings on them.”
Brandon Stahlman walked to load the bases, and Tuft then hit a textbook double play ball, getting Stahlman out at second. However, the throw to first was way too high, scoring Halbach and King.
The Firebirds piled it on in the seventh when Eddie Micheletti’s lead-off double led to the bases being loaded after King singled and Stahlman walked. Tuft kept up his successful day at the plate with a hit lofted to shallow right field that Will Taylor dove and missed, driving in Tuft’s third, fourth and fifth runs of the contest.
“It’s finding the ability to be relentless, finding the ability to have that team at-bat when we have runners in scoring position, finding the ability to be a teammate,” Fecske said.
Orleans tacked on a couple more in the eighth after a couple of Hyannis errors with two outs.
The Harbor Hawks broke the shutout in the eighth inning before making the Firebirds sweat in the ninth, batting through the order and scoring six runs to put the game at 11-7. The game ended with Tuft throwing a runner out at home from left field.
The Firebirds have their final regular season meeting with the Harwich Mariners tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.
“They’re doing such a good job competing relentlessly,” Fecske said. “If they can continue to do that, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is. It’s a nameless, faceless, placeless opponent.”