By: Jacob Janower
Maybe it’s the Hyannis Harbor Hawks pitching staff, or maybe it is just the Bourne bats heating up like the summer weather outside that have been the reason for the sudden offensive spurt from the Braves.
Saturday marked the second consecutive game that the Braves (6-2) offense has poured on the runs against Hyannis, as they won 8-6, and the West Division leaders already have their second three-game winning streak of the season.
It was the first time this season that the Braves won by more than one-run.
“I think in the beginning of the season we got a lot of guys on base but we weren’t really bringing them in, we left a lot of guys stranded,” right fielder Grant Witherspoon (Tulane) said. “We got a couple big hits today. Lineup is starting to get a little more comfortable with pitching.”
The seesaw affair featured two separate innings in which the Braves brought eight men to the plate and the four stolen bases by the home team as well. Eight of the nine hitters in the lineup either scored a run or drove in a run.
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Although it was initially short-lived, the Braves got themselves out to a sizable lead early on in the game. For just the second time all season, they were able to score in the first inning. In fact, three runs came around to score in the frame.
Scott Schreiber (Nebraska) brought home the first two runs with a double down the left field line. Three batters later, Logan McRae (College of Charleston) drove home another with an infield single.
The Braves offense hit a bit of dry spell in the second and third, but picked back up in the fourth, as Witherspoon drove a pitch by Harbor Hawks’ starting pitcher Brooks Crawford (Clemson) to the wall for a two-run double to put the Braves back ahead.
Witherspoon has quickly become the most reliable bat in the order. After Saturday’s game, he has four doubles, six stolen bases, five runs batted in and is the only Brave to start in every contest so far.
He said the key for him is just staying within himself.
“You try to psyche yourself out, it’s not going to work,” Witherspoon said. “Just stick to what you’re good at and it will usually work out for you.”
Braves’ Staff Gets Hit Hard
Head coach Harvey Shapiro’s staff has been pretty consistent this season at limiting the damage against opposing offenses, but a few arms struggled on Saturday.
Starting pitcher Sean Leland (Illinois), a second-year Brave, had some unfortunate luck when a hitter who reached on a dropped third strike ended up starting a three-run rally in the second inning.
The right-hander, who sat out the 2017 season with the Fighting Illini after transferring from Louisville, was also victimized by a pair of hits that led to the Harbor Hawks tying the game once again in the fourth inning.
Reliever Christian Ryder (Georgia) allowed three hits and an earned run in a pair of innings, but was able to right the ship in the latter of his two innings and was credited with the win.
The pitching was able to settle down enough to allow Chad Luensmann (Nebraska) to work a 1-2-3 and record his first save of the season.
The plus side for Leland, Ryder, and the rest of the pitchers that threw during the game is that Hyannis had just two hits in ten at-bats with runners in scoring position.
Walk This Way Part Two
After an approach against the Harbor Hawks on the previous day that paid dividends, the Braves looked like the same patient team once again.
Seven free passes total were issued by Hyannis’ staff, three less than they allowed on Friday. Two of the seven came around to score.
Brave of the Game
Schreiber (who else?) led the Braves offense after being moved up to the four-spot with a pair of doubles, two RBI, and another run scored.
Through his first three games in the CCBL, the Cornhusker has had at least two hits in each one and already leads the team with seven runs batted in.
Coming Up: Sunday marks the beginning of the closest the Braves will come all season to playing the typical three-game series more commonly seen in college and pro baseball. The three games will be a doubleheader followed by another contest on Monday against Brewster.
As for the frequent victories, Witherspoon said it has come down to the talent on the team.
“Just good hitting and good pitching behind us,” he said. “We’ve really got good arms.”
You can contact the author via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or follow him on Twitter (@JanowerJacob).