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Rain can’t put out Firebirds in 13-2 rout of Whitecaps

By Brendan Nordstrom


Eddie Micheletti Jr. fouled off two straight pitches.


Then, he simplified things.


“Just get the barrel to the ball,” the George Washington designated hitter said, “and let my power work.”


As mist engulfed Eldredge Park, Micheletti launched a ball into the hazy Thursday evening sky. Disappearing behind a barricade of fog, the ball never landed — at least not in the field of play.


Officially recorded at 389 feet, Micheletti’s three-run moonshot in the bottom frame of the sixth was only a fraction of what would be a 13-batter, eight-hit, eight-run inning.


The Orleans Firebirds (5-6) dominated the Brewster Whitecaps 13-2 in just six and a half innings of work with the game called due to fog in the middle of the seventh. The game was a rematch of Orleans’ 4-2 victory in Brewster last night, as the Firebirds have now won three games in a row.


“This is what the team is supposed to do,” Micheletti said. “It’s classic baseball, and everyone’s doing their job.”


Every single batter in the lineup recorded a hit tonight, with seven Firebirds recording multiple. The Orleans’ bats were a full-on inferno, recording a crooked 19 hits and 13 runs. And, yes, both of those totals are season-highs for manager Kelly Nicholson’s squad.


“That’s what we’re capable of doing,” Nicholson said. “These hitters are up here for a reason.”


Not to be clouded by the offensive onslaught, Orleans’ pitchers delivered top-notch outings. Right-handed starter Evan Truitt, making his second appearance of the summer, covered a full five innings. The only blemish was a hanging breaking ball that Brewster DH Mason White took for a solo home run to right field. Otherwise, Truitt delivered no walks and four strikeouts to earn the win.


The only other arm for Orleans was lefty Konner Eaton. The George Mason product brought two scoreless, hitless innings. Nicholson credits pitching coach Jim Lawler.


“Jim’s made a huge difference in Konner Eaton mentally and physically,” Nicholson said. “You saw that tonight.”


The other tally for the Whitecaps came in the fourth inning when left fielder Brock Tibbitts teed a single to lead off the inning. After moving to second on a hit-by-pitch, a ground ball to short bounced off the mitt of Drew Faurot to plate Tibbitts. That was Orleans’ only error, while the Whitecaps found themselves with four.


Rain lightly fell on Eldredge Park two hours prior to first pitch, but Nicholson doesn’t believe it had an effect on the game. Fielding trouble isn’t new for Brewster, who recorded three errors in yesterday’s affair.


The errors hurt the Whitecaps most in the second inning. First baseman Johnny Olmstead led off with a textbook bunt down the left field line, not eliciting a throw. Two fielding errors and one throwing error then scored two runs to push the Orleans lead to three.


This was due in part to Orleans’ ability to lay down a bunt, and Brewster’s subsequent struggle to defend against it. Five different batters in the inning attempted to bunt as small ball has become a common strategy for Nicholson’s offense.


“How do you think it’s been working?” Nicholson responded when asked about the strategy. “Anytime you put the ball in play, especially with guys that can run … they threw it in the bushes tonight.”


The Firebirds returned to the scoreboard in the fifth when third baseman Andy Blake led off with hot shot single into center field. According to a tweet by the Official CCBL Analytics account, Blake ranks sixth in expected batting average. With a two-hit day yesterday and three knocks today, Blake is beginning to match those numbers. Keeping with the fire theme, Nicholson said he has been “en fuego.”


Before the smoke could clear on Blake’s hit, Micheletti striped a ball over the third baseman’s head to put runners on the corners. Olmstead squared to bunt once again, laying down a successful safety squeeze, reaching first in the process. Faurot kept the hard hit parade going with a single to left for a 5-2 Firebirds advantage.


Then came the sixth inning.


Second baseman Jo Oyama led off the inning with a bunt single to no man’s land for one of his three hits on the night.


“I’m trying to stick to my approach,” Oyama said. “Trying to find a way to get on base every time, that’s my job.”


Oyama’s single began a parade of four straight one-baggers that led to Micheletti’s second home run of the season. Three more hits loaded the bases for Orleans as Oyama was able to show off his power and his speed with a bases clearing triple in the left-center gap.


Eaton struck out the side in the top of the seventh as fog called the game, giving Orleans the commanding victory.


The Firebirds will look to replicate tonight’s performance and push their win streak to four tomorrow at Whitehouse Field in Harwich with first pitch slated for 6:30 p.m.


“As a team, we’re getting closer, we’re getting to know each other more and more,” Oyama said. “We got a lot of energy going right now.”


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