By: Carson Field
The Braves were just 24 hours removed from a woeful, 9-0 loss to Orleans in Sunday’s doubleheader. Everything was different on Monday.
Bourne cruised to a 5-1 win over the Harwich Mariners, evening the Braves’ record to 3-3.
In his second start of the season, Harrison Rutkowski shined. The Rutgers lefty allowed only three hits in six innings of work, clinching his first win of the year.
“I felt really sharp, and that was the most important thing,” Ruthkowski said. “Getting ahead of batters helped me a lot.”
Rutkowski took a no-hitter into the fifth inning before Harwich’s Niko Kavadas hit a double into right field. But, after that disappointing knock, Rutkowski recovered well. He retired the next three batters, keeping his shutout intact.
He finished Monday with six strikeouts and no walks, allowing zero runs.
This stellar performance on the bump evened his record to 1-1 with a 1.80 ERA. This is a vast improvement from his stat line a year ago, when he posted a 6.64 ERA with an 0-2 record. His experience in 2018 has helped him gain prowess on the mound.
“I’m definitely a lot more comfortable than last year,” Rutkowski said. “Baseball is baseball, so if you go out there and hit your spots and throw well, anything can happen.”
At the start of the seventh inning, Shapiro sent Wesley Tobin into the game on relief duty. After a 1-2-3 inning to start his outing in the seventh, Tobin fell into trouble and loaded. His replacement, Tyler Brosius, got him out of it, allowing just one run to cross the plate (earned run for Tobin).
“At that point, it pretty much salvaged the game right there,” Brosius said. “Trying to not cash in runs for my buddies and minimize damage.”
Brosius notched his first save of the season and sat four of the last five batters down on strikes.
As dominant as the pitching staff was in the win, the hitters were just as effective — especially at the bottom of the order.
Alika Williams started the scoring in the third inning when he drove Noah Bridges across the plate on an RBI single. Williams also scored when Harwich starter Wade Strain threw a wild pitch.
An inning later, Jake MacKenzie and Cody Morissette both hit doubles and eventually scored, expanding the lead to four runs. And, in the fifth inning, MacKenzie further padded Bourne’s advantage, crushing a solo shot to left, his first of the year.
“It felt really good,” MacKenzie said. “Worked a pretty good at-bat and found a pitch to swing on.
“It was great.”
The Braves have now won three of their last four games and have even their record at 3-3. Tuesday, they will travel to Brewster for their first showdown against the Whitecaps this season.
Going into game seven of the 2019 campaign, MacKenzie has already seen leaps in the team’s chemistry. This gives him confidence as the season progresses.
“We started off a little rough, but once we started to get more kids coming in, we built a little more camaraderie,” MacKenzie said. “We put it together, and we’re on a pretty good stretch right now.”