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The Bourne Braves played their first playoff game since 2017 on Friday. A four seed in the West Division, Bourne took on Falmouth in Game 1 of the division semifinals.
It didn’t go as planned for manager Harvey Shapiro and company. An early-inning offensive spark pushed Falmouth past Bourne, 3-2.
In the first inning, Jackson Coutts brought Zach Deloach across to score, giving the ‘Dores an early 1-0 advantage. An inning later, that lead expanded to 3-0, when Blake Dunn and Deloach both had RBI singles.
While those two frames were an ordeal for Bourne starter Harrison Rutkowski, he settled in later. In total, Rutkowski gave up only three earned runs and six hits in six innings.
His crisp recovery, however, didn’t matter. Those woeful two innings set the tone for the rest of the game.
“Early, he had three hits on situations where we had 1-2 on the hitter,” Shapiro said. “He made bad pitches, and you can’t do that with good hitters.
“He got sharper; his breaking ball was better. He had command with his pitches that he didn’t have earlier.”
After Rutkowski’s night ended, Shapiro sent Karl Johnson into the game for two innings of relief. Johnson allowed just one baserunner in that span, allowing him to be the only reliever to make an appearance on Friday.
As the playoffs progress and Bourne hopes to stay alive, only using two pitchers in game one could be crucial. At least Shapiro hopes so.
“We’ll see,” Shapiro said. “Everybody’s ready to pitch tomorrow.”
Offensively, the Braves were held in check for the entirety of Carmen Mlodzinski’s outing. A right-handed arm from South Carolina, Mlodzinski threw five scoreless innings while allowing five hits and recording three strikeouts.
Bourne’s only success at the plate came when Mlodzinski exited the game. Reliever Sam Weatherly allowed two runs in the sixth inning, narrowing the gap to only one run.
With the game so close, the Braves had a realistic chance to take Game 1 from the top seed in the entire Cape League. But a first-and-second threat in the top of the ninth faltered, clinching Falmouth’s 3-2 win.
Bourne is now just a loss away from its 2019 season coming to an end. On the flip side, a win on Saturday at Doran Park could force a rubber match in Falmouth on Sunday.