By: Zach Pekale
When the Bourne Braves and Orleans Firebirds met on June 30, a seventh-inning meltdown fueled by defensive mistakes was the cause of the Braves’ downfall.
In Saturday’s rematch, it was Bourne that benefitted from Orleans’ errors as the Braves picked up a 7-2 victory over the Firebirds.
Firebirds’ starter Erik Miller (Stanford) struggled with his command, conceding four walks and four hits, throwing 84 pitches in over two innings.
Despite showing an inability to finish off the Braves’ hitters, Miller had opportunities to escape two separate jams unscathed. Instead, errors by Logan Wyatt (Louisville) and Miller extended innings, allowing the Braves to plate three unearned runs.
Leading 1-0 with two outs in the bottom of the second inning, Wyatt was unable to come up with a pop fly in foul territory that led to a sacrifice fly from Anthony Prato (Connecticut) and an RBI single by Chase Murray (Georgia Tech).
Then in the following inning, Miller mishandled a comebacker that led to a sacrifice fly from Cooper Johnson (Mississippi) that scored Spencer Brickhouse (East Carolina) to put Bourne in front 3-1.
“Errors are huge. They kill you defensively, but offensively they can really start an inning,” Johnson said. “It kind of always seems like innings with errors are where you capitalize. When the defense makes an error, you really gotta capitalize it.
On the mound, Justin Lasko (Massachusetts) won his second straight decision. In six innings, he allowed two earned runs on four hits and two walks for his third consecutive quality start.
Displaying an ability to comfortably change speeds and mix pitches, Lasko consistently got in front of hitters and pounded the strike zone, remaining aggressive after giving up a sixth-inning home run to Nicholas Osborne (Tennessee Tech) that cut the lead to one run.
“Just had my pitches working. I was able to get ahead with the breaking ball and that establishes all of your pitches,” Lasko said. “Once you have those established you can attack and surprise with a fastball and then throw a little weight on that and you go right back to it. It really keeps them off balance.”
Following Osborne’s blast, Bourne opened the game up once again, utilizing a sacrifice fly from Tyler Fitzgerald (Louisville) and a third error by Orleans.
Sporting a three-run lead in the eighth inning, outfielder Gabe Holt (Texas Tech) gave the bullpen additional insurance with a two-run single for his first runs batted in on the summer.
Playing in his seventh game with Bourne, Holt was a late arrival to the Braves after playing with the Red Raiders in the College World Series.
Player of the Game
Cooper Johnson – After JJ Bleday (Vanderbilt) drew a walk in the sixth inning to bring up Nicholas Osborne, Johnson caught Bleday leading too far from first and successfully picked him off.
Osborne went on to hit a solo home run off of Lasko that would have tied the game had Bleday not been thrown out. Johnson’s play kept the Braves ahead and gave Bourne momentum.
Coming Up: The Braves will look to sustain their momentum when they travel to Guv Fuller Field for a meeting with the Falmouth Commodores on Sunday.