By Jack Loder
As the rain poured down on Chris Clark in the bottom of the first, it looked like Orleans and Brewster would not be able to finish the regular season’s penultimate game as planned. Clark dried his right hand between each pitch, fighting the Brewster bats as well as the elements in a laborious first inning. The Harvard right hander was enduring one of the more frustrating innings a pitcher can experience and the umpires were not going to let a little rain – or in this case a steady pour – bail him out. By the time he stalked back to the visitor’s dugout, Brewster had scored two runs on three hits, none of which were squared up. Three bloop singles, an error and a walk ran Clark’s pitch count up to 43.
Brewster would build on the lead, taking a 10-1 advantage in the middle innings before holding off a valiant comeback effort by Orleans and ultimately prevailing 10-8 in a nearly four hour game. The loss delays a playoff clinching scenario for the Birds for at least a day, as Chatham was rained out.
“We had a rough start there they had a couple dinkers. Next thing you know we’re down 9-1 in the third inning,” Kelly Nicholson said. “You have to give these guys credit for showing fight and coming back tonight. I like where we’re at.”
Orleans roared for a seven run sixth inning to turn a 10-1 game into a nail biter at 10-8. All seven runs scored with two outs. The biggest blow was a two run triple off the bat of Logan Beard. Beard has struggled tremendously at the plate for much of the summer, but has been putting together much better at bats lately. He was great at Louisville this year, and getting that Louisville version of him would be huge for the Birds.
“I’ve been working a lot with Phil just trying to get my body in a better place,” Beard said. “I’m seeing the ball a little better and just feeling better overall in the box.”
It was a comedy of errors that truly buried Orleans. They committed four in a huge home half of the third, including a costly one by the usually sure handed Nick McClaughry. In most losses this year, defense has been an issue for the Firebirds.
Kelly Nicholson is usually quick to identify this as the culprit, but today he used it in a positive light.
“We got five hits and made four errors and were in the ballgame,” he said. “You have games like this it happens. Sometimes you boat race people, sometimes you get boat raced. You just have to stay positive and stick with your routine.
Losses like this one are tough, but they’re necessary. Every single game the Firebirds play from here on out will be do or die.
“Pressure is a privilege,” Nicholson said with a signature smile.