By: Cole Bradley
ORLEANS, Mass- For the past few weeks, the Orleans Firebirds have seen their playoff hopes grow smaller and smaller by the day. With Harwich being the only team within a realistic distance to catch in the standings, the Firebirds hopes have nestled on the Mariners shoulders long enough.
With a Harwich comeback win over Chatham and an Orleans 5-1 loss against the Y-D Red Sox on Friday Orleans has officially been eliminated from playoff contention.
Their season performance against the Red Sox is one of the glaring reasons why Orleans failed to make serious noise in the East Division. At (0-4-2) against Y-D, The Firebirds struggled to find any success at all against the Red Sox.
Friday wasn’t much different despite yet another Hayden Thomas (Texas A&M Corpus Christi) gem on the mound. Thomas went 5.2 in the losing effort, surrendering only two earned runs on three hits.
“I think I had a pretty good summer,” Thomas said. “As far as playing in the best summer league in the country, I felt like I did a good job. I also got to play with a really good group of guys.”
Y-D wasted no time getting on the board against him though, and after walking the leadoff man Wyatt Hoffman (Pacific) Thomas gave up a wall-scrapping home run to Tanner Smith (Oregon). All three of Smith’s homers have come against Orleans, two of which came in the same game.
Y-D notched two more runs in the sixth and an insurance run in the ninth. In the six games the Red Sox have played against Orleans, the Red Sox have outscored the Firebirds 33-22, coming back to win two of those contests.
Left-hander Zack Morris (Arkansas) twirled 2.1 scoreless innings in relief as well, lowering his summer ERA to 1.50. He has only given up one run in his last four outings on seven hits and eight walks.
“I thought Hayden did a good job bridging the gap,” Morris said. “I came in with the same intent, trying to fill up the zone and get outs.”
The lone Orleans run came on outfielder Jared McKenzie’s (Baylor) RBI single to bring in David Marcano (NJIT) in the third inning.
Overall, there aren’t many teams that have had Orleans number more than Y-D in recent memory, and this summer’s series proves as one that Orleans never had a grip on in general.
“The Cape is super competitive and every lineup is going to be tough to get out,” Morris said. “It's just all about coming right after these hitters.”
The Firebirds are (12-15-4), they have five games left before their 2021 campaign officially comes to an end. They still have a chance to finish above .500 with a perfect 5-0 week as Orleans heads to Chatham on Saturday for the final time. First pitch at Veteran’s Field is set for 7:00 pm.