By: Zach Pekale
Relief. Exuberance. Gratitude.
These were just a few of the emotions that rushed over the body of Braves’ reliever Andy Archer (Georgia Tech) after completing a nine-out save to close a 7-5 win over the Cotuit Kettleers.
When the right-hander entered in the seventh inning, Bourne led 7-2 before Archer gave up three earned runs and had runners on first and second with two outs in the ninth for Cotuit first baseman Michael Toglia (UCLA).
With Greer Holston (Mississippi) warming up and the Braves in need of a win to keep their playoff chances alive, manager Harvey Shapiro opted to keep Archer in the game, inducing a game-ending groundout three pitches later.
“I’m really thankful that Coach Shapiro decided to trust me in that situation. I really wanted that [win] bad, I think Coach could tell and I’m glad that he stuck with me at the end,” Archer said. “I made that a little more interesting than anybody rooting for the Braves wanted but a win is a win.”
Having to overcome another slow start offensively, the Braves kept pace with the Kettleers early behind Justin Lasko’s (Massachusetts) fourth quality start of the summer. In six innings, Lasko allowed two earned runs on six hits and two walks while matching a season-high five strikeouts.
Despite facing a 1-0 hole, Lasko exited with the Braves ahead 3-2, capitalizing on RBI extra base hits from Tyler Fitzgerald (Louisville) and Jared Triolo (Houston) with Triolo coming around on a passed ball.
“I knew I had seven lefties in the lineup today so I had to make sure my changeup was on. I worked a little extra on it in the bullpen and I had the fastball working well,” Lasko said. “Having any kind of cushion is nice, you can pitch with a free mentality and go after guys.”
Though Triolo provided two RBI for Bourne, the catalyst driving the Braves’ offense was designated hitter Danny DiGeorgio (Rutgers).
One of the team’s more recent acquisitons, DiGeorgio went 3-for-3 at the plate with a walk, most notably giving the Braves insurance with a two-run single in the top of the seventh.
DiGeorgio’s efforts ultimately ended up being the difference in the score as Bourne pulled within two games of Cotuit for the final playoff spot in the West Division. Additionally, the Braves now have an opportunity to take the season series over the Kettleers when the two meet again on Sunday.
“I’m looking to do my job any way that I can. Men in scoring position, I’m looking to get the ball in the air and drive at least one in. Getting the opportunity to drive two in, that’s even better,” DiGeorgio said. “From now on, every game is the most important game so we need to take this little two-game win streak and roll with it.”
Coming Up: The Braves have their final regular season matchup with an Eastern Division on Friday when they welcome the Harwich Mariners to Doran Park.