By: Carson Field
It’s no secret: hitting hasn’t come easy for the Braves in recent memory. But that wasn’t the issue in Wednesday evening’s loss to Wareham.
In the first frame, Bourne starter Joshua Culliver allowed five runs and put the Braves in a tough spot. An inning later, the Gatemen brought two more across the plate, extending the lead to 7-1. Culliver’s night ended at the conclusion of the inning.
Before Wednesday’s troublesome outing, Culliver had been one of Bourne’s most reliable arms. He allowed just two earned runs in eight combined innings over four relief appearances.
His command that was on full display previously didn’t show up against Wareham.
“He didn’t really have good control of his fastball and his breaking ball wasn’t very good,” pitching coach Ace Adams said. “Early in the game, he tried to trick the hitters a little too much, and he fell behind.
“That was a tough outing.”
Wednesday marked the second game in a row for Bourne where the starting pitcher struggled. Tuesday and Wednesday’s starters — Harrison Rutkowski and Culliver — combined for 15 hits allowed.
After Culliver’s departure, however, Bourne’s pitching staff rebounded. Nick Iverson, Jared Poland and JP Woodward didn’t allow a run in the game’s last six innings and surrendered just five combined hits.
“They were outstanding,” Adams said. “They pitched ahead, mixed some pitches and they worked quickly. It was great.”
Amid the recent struggles at the plate, Adams hopes this depth in the bullpen continues. ,
“We need it,” Adams said. “We need dominance in the bullpen because our starters can only pitch a few innings. We got a lot of good guys in the bullpen, and they throw strikes.”
Even though the bats have been the most prominent issue with the 2019 squad, they did their part in Wednesday’s defeat. After falling to a six-run deficit early on, the Braves clawed back in, scoring four runs in a three-inning span.
While the Braves ultimately fell 7-5, this was easily one of their most productive nights at the plate. Nick Breuser and Zavier Warren each recorded two base hits, and the team drew seven total walks.
“It’s tough when they get a bunch of runs to start, but I think we pieced it together at-bat by at-bat and were able to get some runs across,” Breuser said. “Hopefully we can carry into the next game and start out stopping their offense.”
After a day off on the Fourth of July, the Braves will return home and host the Harwich Mariners. Now sitting three points behind third place in the West Division, Bourne could use a cross-division win to close the gap.