FALMOUTH, Mass.–As the Bourne Braves advanced to meet the regular-season first place team, Falmouth Commodores in the CCBL Western Championship, most would say it was a lopsided game 1 matchup against ace Brady Puckett (Lipscomb.) That was not the case, as Bourne kept with its M.O. of the playoffs by beating yet another seemingly unbeatable team in a 7-4 offensive surge.
Braves country was in full-force down at Guv Fuller Field as Chris Holba (East Carolina) took the mound for the Braves, and flummoxed Falmouth for five innings, giving up one run off four hits with two strikeouts.
It was a different story for Puckett, as the Braves racked five runs off 10 hits on the pitcher who had perviously given up just one run to the Bourne offense in 11 innings.
The Commodores struck first in the bottom of the first off an RBI double from Deacon Liput (Florida.) Holba proceeded to buckle down and strike out the side to retire the middle of the lineup and continued to cruise through the order one more time.
The Braves answered with a run of their own in the third when Brennan Breaux (LSU) knocked a leadoff single and was brought around off a passed ball and RBI single by Evan Mendoza (NC State.)
Breaux continued to wreak havoc on the Falmouth pitching staff, going 3 for 4 with a walk, and being a key factor in several situations with runners in scoring position.
Leadoff hitters continued to ignite the Bourne offense, who had a total of 15 hits on the night, with Andrew Shaps (Arizona State) knocking a single and advancing to third on wild pitch in the fourth inning.
John Jones (South Carolina) made Shaps’ move to scoring position irrelevant, as he took Puckett deep for a two-run home run and put the Braves ahead 3-1.
Bourne took the lead and never looked back, adding an additional two runs in the fifth by way of a two-run single from Jake Mangum (Mississippi State) to score Connor Wong (Houston) and Justin Yurchak (Binghamton.)
Mangum went 2 for 5 on the night with three RBIs, with Wong going 3 for 5 with two runs scored.
Puckett’s night soon came to a close after Mangum’s at-bat, but the staff could not stop the damage, giving up an additional two runs in the later innings.
With Bourne up 6-2 in bottom of the seventh, after scoring a run of their own after a Mangum RBI in a bases-loaded fielder’s choice, Falmouth threatened with a two-run home run by Michael Gigliotti (Lipscomb) off reliever Brendon Little (UNC Chapel Hill.) The rally was crushed however, by none other than Mangum who gunned down Liput trying to stretch a single into a double for an inning-ending 9-6 putout.
Mangum was greeted by his teammates at the steps for his assist along with cheers and tomahawk chops from the large road crowd at Fuller Field.
With a 6-4 lead going into the bottom in the ninth, after a scoreless eighth from Braves’ Chad Luensmann (Nebraska) and Jon Escobar (Holy Cross,)-who pitched out of a bases-loaded jam with a third-out strikeout, Bourne notched an insurance run off a bases-loaded walk from Breaux.
Escobar closed down the night, letting his defense work behind him, inducing two fly-outs and a strikeout to go into game 2 with a 1-0 lead against Falmouth.
Game 2 will be played 6 p.m. Tuesday at Doran Park.
Doug Norman (LSU) is slated to take the mound for Bourne.