BOURNE, Mass.–If it wasn’t for late-game heroics by Binghamton’s Justin Yurchak, the Bourne Braves (14-15-1) and division rival Cotuit Kettleers (11-18) might still be playing.
A game that went back and forth on passed balls, wild pitches and an inconsistent strike zone was a recipe for a four-hour, ten-inning walk-off win to boost the Braves into to second place in the West.
Bourne’s Chris Holba (East Carolina) went five strong innings in his first appearance since July 3, where he pitched just 2 1-3 and gave up one earned run off three hits. This time however, he surrendered three hits in his longest outing to date, leaving the Kettleers scoreless until Dominic Taccolini (Arkansas) came on to pitch the sixth.
Taccolini struggled, giving up two earned runs off two hits, while walking one in what amounted to a third of an inning of work.
Bourne’s two runs in the first two innings, off singles by Connor Wong (Houston) and Jake Mangum (Mississippi State), were not enough to sustain a late-inning surge by Cotuit bats-that jumped on Taccolini and kept rolling through the Braves’ bullpen.
Miami’s Andrew Cabezas held down the 2-2 tie as he pitched the sixth, seventh and part of the eighth, giving up two runs with one of them earned, off one hit with two walks and two strikeouts.
The game teetered back and forth as both teams continued to tack on runs in the late innings.
After a single and stolen base from Willy Yahn (UConn), Yurchak propelled the Braves atop with an RBI single to make it 3-2.
But only for Cotuit to come storming back in the eighth and add two of their own off Tim Susnara (Oregon), who roped a two-RBI single to center off Andrew Wantz (UNC Greensboro) for a 4-3 lead.
Wantz finished the night with another rough outing, going 1 1-3 innings giving up one earned run off three hits, one walk and two strikeouts.
The Braves continued to battle back to avoid their third consecutive loss. They tacked on another run to tie the game in the eighth, as Wong led off the inning with a triple off Josh Roberson (UNC Wilmington), who relieved selected Cape Cod League All-Star Eddie Muhl (George Washington)- who went two innings, giving up one earned run off two hits.
With two outs, Wong scored on a wild pitch to tie Cotuit, 4-4.
Braves pitching struggled to stop the persistent Kettleer offense as they added the leading run in the top of the ninth off Wantz, who gave a up a single to Quinn Brodey (Stanford.)
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, LSU’s Brennan Breaux scored on a fielder’s choice by David MacKinnon (Hartford) for the second out.
That was all the Braves could amount, stranding both Yurchak and Mangum in scoring position as Wong flew out for the third out.
Nebraska’s Chad Luensmann was the fifth and final pitcher for the Braves and received the win, pitching two innings of two-hit baseball while walking one and striking out three.
Both teams posted scoreless frames in the 10th as the Braves began to run low on bench players.
Four hours in, in what began to look like yet another inning of wild pitches and walks on both sides, Yahn ledoff the bottom of the 11th with a walk and advanced to scoring position off a single from Mangum.
Both Yahn and Mangum went 2 for 5 with a walk on the night and set the table for Yurchak.
“I was in a good situation to hit with guys at first and third,” Yurchak said. “The guys did a good job getting on base so I just saw a pitch that I thought I could handle and get some wood on.”
And that he did, as he hit his second single and RBI of the night to go 2 for 4 and send the Braves home with a standings-boosting “W.”
The Braves look to carry their momentum and late-game heroics into their road game, 5, Sunday against the 13-16 Brewster Whitecaps.
Probable starters are Walter Borkovich (Michigan State) and Bourne’s Tony Dibrell (Kennesaw State.)