By: Madeleine Balestrier
A night of firsts helped send the Bourne Braves to their first Cape Cod Baseball League Championship since their 2009 victory.
Although the bats continued to struggle on both sides of the ball through Wednesday night’s 2-0 sweep against the Wareham Gatemen, Blake Whitney’s (South Carolina Upstate) starting debut and Lyle Lin’s (Arizona State) first homerun of the season pushed them into the championship.
Aside from Lin’s solo homerun in the top half of the third, the Braves struggled at the plate through seven innings.
The following inning highlighted their offensive issues when a bases loaded situation went stranded. As Jameson Hannah (Dallas Baptist) continued his 16-game hit streak, Jared Triolo (Houston) and Grant Witherspoon (Tulane) followed him onto the base paths with a walk and a single. With two outs and runners ready, Kevin Radziewicz (Fairfield) struck out swinging.
Although the lineup struggled to find opportunities Wednesday night, Lin continued to find himself on the scoring side of the ball with his leadoff walk that ignited the efforts of the eighth inning. As Scott Schrieber (Nebraska) intentionally walked later in the inning, Triolo stepped up to the plate with two outs and two runners staring him down the barrel. Triolo continued his 6-game RBI streak as he pushed across a single into the right field gap to bring Lin home.
The Braves made it a team effort; as the bats struggled the arms on the mound continued to wheel and deal. While the Gatemen recycled through five pitchers, the Braves won the day as they only called upon reliever Bryan Hoeing (Louisville) and shutdown closer, Chad Luensmann (Nebraska).
“It was great. Once I came out of the game I knew that we had won,” Whitney said on his trust for the bullpen.
Hoeing helped keep the Gatemen scoreless through two innings, while Luensmann clinched the championship berth as he struck out Jake Anchia in the bottom of the ninth.
Stat That Mattered
A Braves’ pitcher had not made it through six innings all season until Whitney made his starting debut in game two of the Western Finals.
“It feels really good to come out here and do that,” Whitney said. “All summer I don’t think I have thrown scoreless in the NECBL, but to come here to the Cape and do that feels pretty awesome.”
Before Whitney took the mound on Wednesday night, Eli Kraus (Kent State) had the longest stint through five and two-thirds innings.
“Most pitchers throw everyday and all summer I haven’t,” Whitney said. “I only throw two days before and the day I pitch and its been working. It worked last summer and it worked this summer.”
Before Hoeing replaced him in the bottom half of the seventh, Whitney went six innings with four hits, no runs, no walks and six strikeouts on the night.
Brave of the Game
Although Whitney’s performance deserves a major tip of the hat, Lin’s homerun proved to be integral to the offense’s output on Wednesday night. Before he went yard against the Gatemen, Lin was struggling at the plate throughout the playoffs. He was only hitting .111 as opposed to his .283 regular season average.
After hitting his first homerun to record the first run of the game, his walk in the eighth turned into the final run of the game with the help from Triolo.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Brewster Whitecaps extended the Eastern Division Finals to a three game series as they came away with the 8-3 victory over the Orleans Firebirds.
Coming Up: Although the team and time is to be determined, the Braves will head on the road to either Brewster or Orleans on Friday for game one of the Cape Cod Baseball League Championship Series.
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