I had the opportunity to take in two more games yesterday. The first stop was at Wilson Field where the Y-D Red Sox played host to the red-hot Orleans Cardinals. Behind the pitching of Matt Thomson (San Diego), the Cardinals continued their winning ways by defeating the Red Sox by a score of 5-0. Orleans seems to have it going in all facets of the game. They wasted no time yesterday, jumping on Y-D starter Craig Fritsch (Baylor) for a run in the top of the first inning. Matt Bowman (Nevada-Reno) hit the first of three consecutive one-out singles. Fritsch seemed to be more worried about the baserunner than the batter when Duke's Alex Hassan and Georgia's Rich Poythress combined to produce the first run of the game.
Cole Figueroa (Florida) lead off the second inning with his second homerun of the year. It was an opposite-field shot to left-centerfield. Gary Brown (CS-Fullerton) manufactured the Cardinals third run of the game when he was hit by a pitch, stole second and third, and came home on a passed ball.
Fritsch's problems continued in the third inning. Hassan started things with another single. Poythress walked. Nate Freiman (Duke), singled to center to score Hassan. Poythress moved to third on the play and Freiman took second on the throw home. After Figueroa was intentionally walked, Brown also walked to force home the fifth run of the game. With the bases still loaded, Fritsch retired Tim Wheeler (Sacramento State), but the Cardinals already had more than enough runs to work with on this day.
Shawn Tolleson, Fritsch's teammate at Baylor, took over in the fourth inning and settled things down by allowing only two hits in his five innings of work.
Thomson pitched a masterful game for Orleans. He went eight innings, allowing only three hits and one walk, while striking out five. He improved his record to 3-0 while lowering his ERA to 1.56.
For the sake of full disclosure, I left this game in the top of the seventh inning. In checking the play-by-play in the boxscore, I noted that Y-D did not advance a runner past first base. This coming one day after they did not have a baserunner reach third at Brewster.
NOTES: As mentioned earlier, the Cardinals are playing well in all areas of the game. They are getting hitting, pitching and playing sound defense. They flashed the leather in the fifth inning when centerfielder Brown made a nice diving catch after running a long way to catch up to the ball. The inning ended when Angelo Songco (Loyola-Marymount) raced back to catch a ball with his back against the fence in left. With the win, Orleans maintains a 7 point lead over second place Harwich. The Cardinals streak is now 12-1-1. Their only loss was by a 1-0 score to Hyannis. In that time, Orleans has scored 8 or more runs 5 times. In the 5th inning, Poythress hit a ball to left that was a foot shy of clearing the fence. He ended up with a double. Fritsch works at two speeds - slow when there is no one on base; snail-pace when there is a baserunner. Playing in front of his family, Y-D's Whit Merrifield (South Carolina) singled and made a nice play on a bunt from his third base position to throw out Hassan. Wilson Field is in great shape. The recent heat and humidity has not affected the look of the playing surface at all. Standing behind either dugout is a great vantage point. Surprise: Hearing the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Californication" over the P.A. system. Yeah, I know there aren't any "naughties" in there, but I was waiting to hear little Johnny ask mom or dad a question..... No surprise: Hearing the Dropkick Murphys' "Tessie" as Y-D played homage to the MLB team who's nickname they share (for now).
I left the game in Yarmouth in the seventh inning in order to take in the second part of my "doubleheader" in Chatham where the A's and Brewster Whitecaps were meeting for the fourth time this year. In a game that provided a lot of offense, Chatham came back from a 5-2 deficit to top Brewster, 7-5.
Adam Warren (UNC), who beat Brewster last week, squared off against Rory McKean (Mississippi). McKean was making his first start of the summer after serving as Brewster's closer.
I arrived in the bottom of the first inning. By this time, Brewster had already jumped on top on a solo homerun by Stanford's Brent Milleville. Warren got himself into trouble in the third when he walked three. He escaped unscathed when he struck out Ryan Wheeler (Loyola Marymount). Chatham took the lead in the bottom half of the inning. With one out, Cory Olson (UC-Irvine) singled and Kyle Seager (UNC) walked. Grant Green (USC) doubled to right to score Olson. Yan Gomes (Tennessee) then hit a ground ball to the shortstop to score Seager with the second run of the inning. This was not your run of the mill fielder's choice. When the ball was hit, I think everyone in the ballpark thought it would go through to centerfield to score two runs. Everyone except Brewster shortstop Derek Poppert (San Francisco). Poppert made a great play as he raced to his left, fielded the ball, and threw Gomes out. This prevented another run from scoring as Green had to hold at third. Certainly, Gomes thought the ball would find its way to the outfield. He was out on the play because instead of running straight through the bag, he was running into foul territory, getting ready to round first base. It was a very nice play by Poppert to limit any further damage and send the game to the fourth with Chatham holding a 2-1 lead.
The Whitecaps tied the game in the fourth. Connor Powers (Mississippi State) walked, moved to second on an infield out and to third on a hit by Jason Nappi (Mississippi State). Miami's Yasmani Grandal singled up the middle to produce the tie.
Brewster's display of power continued in the fifth. With one out, Milleville doubled to center. Wheeler followed with the Whitecaps second homerun of the evening to put Brewster on top, 4-2. They weren't done yet as Ty Kelly (UC-Davis) and Nappi hit back-to-back doubles to produce another run.
Chatham came right back in the home half of the inning. Following a walk to Seager, Green hit his fifth homerun of the year to bring the A's back to within one. That was the end of the night for McKean. Mark Lamm (Vanderbilt) came in from the bullpen but Lamm did not provide much relief. The inning continued when Gomes singled and moved up on a wild pitch. Victor Sanchez (San Diego) doubled to score Gomes. After a strikeout, Evan Ocheltree (Wake Forest) singled up the middle for the A's fourth hit of the inning and a 6-5 lead.
An RBI single off of Wade Broyles (Mississippi) by Gomes extended the A's lead to 7-5 in the sixth inning.
Joe Serafin (Vermont) entered the game for Chatham to pitch the sixth inning. Serafin, despite giving up four hits in his three innings, pitched very well. After retiring Brewster in order in his first inning of work, Chatham's defense helped immensely in the seventh. After getting the first two batters, Serafin gave up singles to Powers and Kelly. The next batter, Nappi, hit a line drive base hit to center. With two out and the runners moving, Olson fielded the ball and threw a strike to Gomes to easily nail Powers at the plate.
Serafin allowed a harmless single to Jim Klocke (Southeast Missouri) in the eighth. It looked like Chatham's recent bullpen problems might continue when Matt Harvey was brought in to start the ninth and he gave up a leadoff hit to Milleville. With two out, Kelly walked, but Harvey reached back and struck out Nappi to end the game.
NOTES: Chatham and Brewster meet again today at Stony Brook School. Kevin Couture (USC, who has struggled recently, takes his 1-2 record with a 5.40 ERA to the mound, to be opposed by Caleb Cotham (3-1; 2.89). Chatham has won all four games the teams have played this year. The A's are 0-4 against Harwich. Brewster's .264 team batting average ranks third in the league. If you go to a Chatham game, expect to see a lot of strikeouts. On the negative side, Chatham struck out 8 more times last night to raise their league-leading "K" total to 314. On the positive side, the A's pitching staff leads the league with 285 K's. Chatham remains next-to-last in team ERA at 4.07. Serafin came into the game with an ERA of 6.87 but lowered it to 5.91 with his three shutout innings. Chatham has played better defense lately. After making 20 errors in their first 9 games, they have made 21 errors in the last 21 games. The A's rank last in the league with only 19 stolen bases. Brewster's Milleville is now batting .354 with 3 HR and 14 RBI. Wheeler is batting .327 with 4 HR. Powers leads the team with 5 HR and 20 RBI. Brewster pitchers have issued more walks (154) than any other team. The Whitecaps have hit 18 homeruns which ranks them second behind Cotuit (19). His numbers don't jump out at you, but Yasmani Grandal is a player to keep an eye on.