Friday was a beautiful summer day on Cape Cod. A good day to take in two games. My first stop was at the Stony Brook School Field in Brewster to watch the Whitecaps play Chatham. There was the potential for a very good pitching matchup as Tim Clubb (Missouri State) took his 4-0 record with a 0.35 ERA to the hill for Brewster. He was opposed by ex-Whitecap Adam Warren (UNC) who was making only his second appearance for the A's. Chatham got on the board early as Evan Ocheltree (Wake Forest) hit his first homerun of the year over the rightfield fence in the second inning. One inning later, Grant Green (USC) hit a shot to deep left-centerfield to put Chatham up 2-0. Following Green's blow, Cory Olson (UC-Irvine) hit a double to right. He moved to third on a fly out by Kyle Seager (UNC) and scored one batter later when Yan Gomes hit another deep fly to left field. In the bottom half of that inning, Warren encountered temporary control problems as he walked the first two batters. Mike Freeman (Clemson) followed with a hit to get the Whitecaps on the board. The run was unearned as the result of an error on an attempted steal when neither Chatham middle infielder covered the base. Victor Sanchez (San Diego) got in the act in the top of the fourth by lining a shot over the fence in left to restore Chatham's three run lead.
The score remained 4-1 heading into the last inning when Chatham tacked on three more runs to seal the win. With Rory McKean (Mississippi) pitching for Brewster, Chatham loaded the bases on two singles and a walk. Seager got an RBI the hard way as he was hit by a pitch. The big blow of the inning was a double down the rightfield line by recent addition Gomes which brought in the final two runs for the A's. It was Gomes' second double of the game and he had 3 RBI for the evening. Brewster added a run in the bottom half of the inning for the 7-2 final.
In taking his first loss of the year, Clubb gave up 5 hits and 3 walks while striking out 7 in his 6 innings of work. Although he only had 3 strikeouts, Warren pitched a very effective 6 innnings for Chatham. He walked 4 but only allowed 2 hits. The A's turned two double plays to limit any damage. Bobby Hernandez (Barry), who had been released earlier in the season by Chatham, returned to the team and pitched the seventh and eighth innings. Hernandez got off to a shaky start by issuing walks to the first two batters he faced, but he settled down and did not give up a run.
Notes: Clubb's outing raised his ERA from 0.35 to a still very respectable 1.41. This was the second straight loss by a 7-2 score for Brewster. Falmouth beat them by that score Thursday night. Prior to the Falmouth game, Orleans beat Brewster by a score of 13-2, so the Whitecaps have given up 27 runs in their last three games. The return of Hernandez adds a little depth to the A's bullpen and allows Kevin Couture (USC) to make his first start of the summer when Chatham hosts Wareham tonight. After last night's game, Olson now has enough at-bats to qualify among the batting leaders. He has moved into the top spot with a .434 average, dropping teammate Grant Green into second place. Green is batting .407.
By the time I arrived at Eldredge Park, The host Cardinals already had a 6-0 lead in the third inning. The Mariners starting pitcher, Patrick Johnson (UNC), was already out of the game, having lasted only 2-plus innings. He did not retire any of the five batters he faced in the third inning. Sean Black (Seton Hall) took over in that third inning with two runners in scoring position and proceeded to strike out the side to prevent any more damage. Overall, however, Black was not much more effective than Johnson. Black gave up 4 runs on 3 hits and 4 walks in his two-plus innings of work. Nate Freiman (Duke) and Tim Wheeler (Sacramento State) both hit two-run homeruns as the Cardinals built their lead to 8-0 after 4 innings. This prompted Mariners assistant coach Mike Sarno to quip "Not a good showing for the Mariners." Things looked brighter for Harwich as they scored 5 runs in the fifth inning, driving Orleans starter Isaac Morales (Cal. State-LA) from the game. Morales couldn't stand prosperity as he could not register the last out of the fifth inning which would have qualified him for the win. After getting the first two Mariners out, Morales gave up a single and a walk before D.J. Belfonte (Nebraska) homered to rightfield, cutting the Cardinals lead to 8-3. Morales' struggles continued as Harwich went on to score two more runs in the inning. Justin Earls (Georgia) came on in relief for Orleans and retired Brandon Belt (Texas) on a ground out to second base with two runners on base to end the inning. Belt, coming into the game batting .133, made the first and last outs of the inning as the Mariners sent 10 batters to the plate.
With Harwich making a game of it as they headed into the bottom of the fifth inning down 8-5, Black stayed with the theme of not being able to handle prosperity as the Cardinals added two more runs to account for the 10-5 final.
While picking up his first win of the year, Earls pitched very well in his second appearance for Orleans. After getting Belt to end the fifth inning, he went on to put the Mariners down in order in each of the next three innings, retiring all 10 batters he faced.
Notes: With the win, the Cardinals moved 3 points ahead of second place Brewster amd they have played one less game than the Whitecaps. Harwich evened their record at 11-11 at the mid-point of their season. The Mariners are 2-6 in their last eight games. Orleans is 7-1 in that time, with their only loss coming to Hyannis by a score of 1-0. The first place Cardinals are last in team batting with a .212 average. On a perfect Friday night in mid-July, I was surprised at the size of the crowd. For what it's worth, the attendance was announced at 1,819. It did not look that big. There were large patches of grass visible between the blankets on the first base side and few people scattered around the rest of the area. Not a bad crowd, but not what I expected in Orleans on a Friday night. I was looking forward to seeing Team USA invitees Dustin Ackley (UNC) and Tommy Medica (Santa Clara). Medica went 2 for 4 with an RBI and played well behind the plate. Ackley was the DH in this game. He went 1 for 3 and scored a run while walking once and being hit by a pitch. Orleans' Freiman was 3 for 5 with 4 RBI. The 6'7" Freiman's homerun was his first in the 20 games he has played. Orleans has now scored 41 runs in their last 5 games and that stretch includes the shutout to Hyannis. Harwich has struggled recently having won only 5 of their last 13 games but their 3.00 team ERA ranks second in the league.