By: Carson Field
In the sixth inning of Tuesday’s tilt with Cotuit, Bourne led 2-1: a slight advantage in a must-win game.
A lead? Yes. But it was too close for comfort with starter Harrison Rutkowski out of the game. In his relief was Blake Burzell, who has been up-and-down this year.
Burzell surrendered a hit to the first batter he faced, and he should have done the same to the next batter, Casey Schmitt. But left fielder Nick Brueser had other plans.
Off the bat, it looked like Schmitt may have smacked the ball hard enough to send it over the left-field fence. Instead, it played as a sharp liner to the warning track that should’ve been good for extra bases.
But Brueser made a remarkable play. He hopped, threw his arm above his head and snagged the ball.
“That’s usually what happens to me,” Brueser said. “As soon as I get in the game, the ball will find me.”
The play didn’t end there, however. With a runner on first, this could have been very damaging for the Braves if Schmitt reached base. But, with the stellar catch, the runner — Allbry Major — didn’t get to move 90 feet. He never did.
Moments after securing the ball, Brueser hurled it toward the infield. Because it looked like a clear base hit, Major was already headed to third by the time Brueser made the catch.
That came back to haunt him.
Second baseman Cody Morissette picked up that throw cleanly and quickly tossed to Cade Beloso at first — just a second before Major touched the bag. Lowell park fell into silence when this head-turning play cleared the bases.
“It definitely stopped their momentum a little bit,” Brueser said. “It kept us in the game and it was big for us.”
Shortly after, Bourne recorded the third out. There was no going back.
A half inning later, Jud Fabian cleared the bases in a different way. With the bases juiced, Fabian hit his second home run of the game, this one a grand slam to left field.
Fabian, who has consistently been one of Bourne’s best hitters, hopes to perpetuate this recent success.
“You gotta have the same approach,” Fabian said. “If it’s working, why change it?”
The Braves extended their lead to 6-1 with the help of that grand slam. But it did get closer than that.
In the ninth inning — with Tyler Brosius on the mound — Cotuit crossed the plate three times on three hits and a walk. This marked the second consecutive game in which Brosius struggled.
With one out and a runner on first, manager Harvey Shapiro made a pitching change. In came Nick Trogrlic-Iverson. He retired the final two batters, cementing the 6-4 victory.
Winners of back-to-back games, the Braves are now 9-14 and seven points ahead of Hyannis, which sits in the West Division’s cellar. Five of Bourne’s next six outings are against division adversaries, so the Braves could climb the ladder in this stretch.