By: Cole Bradley
ORLEANS, Mass- It sounds like a broken record, but there’s no other way to say it — the Orleans Firebirds have had their troubles against the Y-D Red Sox.
In their three previous matchups, Y-D has outscored Orleans 14-9, good enough for a (2-0-1) record against the Firebirds coming into Saturday. With a home-and-home tilt beginning at Eldredge Park, the Birds looked to turn the narrative on its ear.
Aided by a pair of home runs from David Marcano (NJIT) and Luke Keaschall (San Francisco), the Birds offense provided timely blows throughout and scrapped their way to a 3-3 tie. The Firebirds still have two more opportunities to finish the season with a winning record against Y-D, something they haven’t been able to achieve in quite some time.
“We played really well again against Y-D tonight,” Head coach Kelly Nicholson said. “They got their three runs on a weird play. I think if you asked Scott Pickler, he’d tell you that his offense has underperformed over the last five games.”
Orleans had to earn every run they scored against Y-D starter Adam Maier (British Columbia), who came right after the Firebird lineup with a mid-90s fastball and a nasty slider. It didn’t get any easier when the Red Sox brought in Jaret Godman (Oklahoma), who has been Orleans’ kryptonite this season.
Despite that, the Birds grabbed a run against each of them, both on the aforementioned solo homers from Marcano and Keaschall.
“I was really just looking for a pitch I could do something with, hitting homers isn’t really in my arsenal,” Marcano said. “This game we were able to get some hits together and get the longball working for us. Y-D pitches well, it’s kinda hard to adjust every game but we're getting closer and closer.”
On the pitching side, Max Rajcic (UCLA) got his revenge after a rough first outing against Y-D, going 3.1 while only giving up two runs on three hits. He also tallied a season-high six strikeouts in the effort as well.
Rajcic’s process to becoming a starter has gone very smooth, and he’s done a good job keeping opponents out of the run column.
“I felt like I had my best stuff tonight,” Rajcic said. “I had a week to think about my last start, and I feel like it was a redemption game.”
Zack Morris (Arkansas) came in and stuck it to the Red Sox the rest of the way in what was his best outing to date. He went 5.2 innings in relief, striking out eight and only giving up one run.
Y-D had no answers from the fourth inning on, and as a lineup that struggles against left-handed pitching, it seemed fitting that Morris finished the game.
“He’d like to compete for a starting spot at Arkansas next year, he's good man,” Nicholson said. “I kept telling Troupe there’s no reason to take him out. He took the opportunity tonight to just finish. We were gonna just have him go two but we just wanted to let him roll.”
Orleans was unable to capitalize offensively the rest of the way, leading to the inevitable tie. The Firebirds will now make the trip to Red Wilson Field to face Y-D to end the weekend.