By Jack Loder
This time of year, each and every play in a baseball game could be the difference in playoff positioning, and even a playoff spot. A broken bat bleeder in the top of the seventh looked harmless off the bat, but a rough hop and a less than ideal pursuit from the Orleans left side of the infield allowed the ball to find the left field grass, plating a run that ended up as the difference in the ballgame. Another late rally fell just short, and Orleans fell to Bourne 4-3 at Eldredge Park.
As they usually do, the Birds had their chance in the ninth. Luke Keaschall was plunked by a 3-2 fastball with one out, setting the stage for J.D. Urso and Cam Jones to squander game tying opportunities. Urso popped up a 3-2 pitch above the zone, and Jones struck out on a similar pitch in the same count. With the win, Bourne takes the season series over Orleans 3-1.
“We didn’t play catch, didn’t take care of the baseball tonight and it’s as simple as that,” Kelly Nicholson said. “No big secret tonight.”
Too little too late has become a theme lately for Orleans. The Birds don’t play well from behind and they’re getting behind all too often.
Reliever Chris Clark and starter Chris Clark are still just in the talking phase. They’ve gone on a couple dates, getting to know each other over dinner, drinks and a movie. The reliever version of Clark is very confident and comfortable, knowing his role and facilitating conversation accordingly. As a starter, he’s still trying to find his legs, learning how to spread his electric stuff out over 50-60 pitches. Ideally, the couple will become married, making Clark an intriguing versatile prospect. Until then, he’s still a work in progress as a starting pitcher.
Clark was solid in his start Tuesday, spinning 3.1 innings of one run ball. He pitched with traffic on the bases for most of his outing, allowing five singles during his outing. The only run he surrendered, however, came on the opening batter of the game. Bourne’s Nelson Taylor dug in to leadoff the ballgame, making his Cape League debut. After working a full count, he launched a solo shot to deep right center. Clark recovered well to complete three plus innings.
Orleans struck back in the bottom of the second with some thunder from the bottom of the order. Connor Burns, who has struggled with two outs for much of the summer, came up big. With first and second and two down, he stayed back on a curveball and laced it back up the middle for an RBI knock.
With so much roster turnover late in the summer, it feels like Orleans debuts a new player nearly every night. On Tuesday it was UNC Charlotte left hander Collin Kramer making his first Cape League appearance. He was phenomenal in three innings of work, putting up a trio of zeros while striking out six and not allowing a base hit. He’s just the latest UNC Charlotte 49er to join the Birds, joining Jake Cunningham and Nate Furman in dawning the red and black on the Cape. Kramer’s presence in the middle innings could be huge for Orleans as the season heads down the stretch.
“I’m really excited to be a part of something down the stretch here and get hot,” Kramer said. “We’ve got a really good group of guys here, I can tell this can be a dangerous group when we click.”
Of note on offense: Cam Jones extended his impressive hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the bottom of the eighth inning. has been Connor Burns recent production at the plate. He added another base hit later in the game. Isaac Humphrey did what he does, getting on base for the 24th – yes 24th – straight game.