Braves break 2-2 tie curse with Wareham with offense, double home run total at Doran Park
By Mac Friday
(Photo: Joey Kurtz/Bourne Braves)
Entering Tuesday’s game against the Wareham Gateman at Doran Park, the Braves’ offensive statistics at home were dismal. Bourne was hitting just .212 at their home park with only three home runs, but .240 with 14 home runs on the road. With a four-game homestand on the horizon, something needed to change, and fast.
Maybe they just put good swings on the ball. Or maybe it was the muggy conditions with the wind occasionally blowing out to left-center field. Maybe the Braves were fired up after seeing Bourne RHP Reese Sharp get drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 20th round 45 minutes before first pitch. Maybe even the remaining MLB Home Run Derby balls were shipped up to the Cape for Tuesday’s contest (it’s no secret they were juiced).
Whatever the reason, the Braves dominated at Doran, hitting three home runs which doubled their home run total at Doran, while scoring seven runs on nine hits, flexing their muscles on the way to a 7-2 victory.
“I thought we just put good swings on them right from the start,” Landers said about the home runs. “We got them out of the way early and hit them to left. It was good to get on the board early and we really just found a way to swing the bat well tonight.”
Center fielder Mac Horvath set the tone early, smashing a two-run bomb out to left-center, scoring second baseman Bryce Eblin, who reached on a full-count walk. Horvath’s home run was his fourth in five games, seven total with the Braves, which started with a walk-off grand slam against Chatham at home. Ever since then, the North Carolina Tarheel has been on an absolute tear.
“I feel like I’m still working on getting my timing down with the breaking balls,” Horvath opened up. “But as far as recognizing it, yeah, I feel like I am seeing the ball well overall and that’s helped.”
“I feel like this place is one of the easier places to see the ball on the Cape. When we were in Hyannis it was a little tougher to see the first at-bat or so, but I haven’t had a hard time seeing it here at Doran. I know it does play a little big with how large the outfield is though.”
In the second, another bonafide home run hitter in designated hitter Josh Moylan had his way at the dish. “Big Crank” scorched a line drive the other way to left center, his third of the season.
“I just went up thinking fastball up the middle and I got one outer third and put a good swing on it,” Moylan said. “(Assistant coach Jarrod Saltalamacchia) and I have been working on some stuff with my stance and I’ve been seeing the ball a little better, so it’s just been working.”
More runs in the third on a perfectly executed double steal with runners at the corners. Horvath got on his horse and swiped second, while Eblin took his chance to jump at the perfect time, sliding into home safely by a narrow margin.
First baseman Chris Brito, who was surprisingly not selected on Day 3 of the MLB Draft took out his frustration on the baseball, smashing an RBi single to score Horvath. Later in the sixth, Brito tattooed a shot to left field for a solo home run.
“He left it on the inside part of the plate and I just pulled it, pulled the trigger,” Brito said. “I just had to trust my hands and wave it goodbye.”
Bourne right fielder Carson Jones added another run in the eighth on an RBI double, scoring left fielder Evan Sleight all the way from first, who narrowly slid into home before the tag could be applied.
Bourne’s pitching matched the occasion, even after a spotty performance by righty Ryan Fischer to start. Fischer struggled to find his good stuff and gave up a hit in each of his first two innings, but fought back well with the punchout. In the third, center fielder Chase Davis facilitated a one-out walk before first baseman Max Anderson smashed a double to score him. Anderson then scored on an RBI double by shortstop Blake Wright. Fischer was bounced after three and two thirds of two run baseball with one walk and five strikeouts.
“Fischer didn’t have his good stuff, but he battled,” Landers said. “He wasn’t getting ahead of hitters, he was behind everybody, but he grinded. He gave up those two runs in the third but came back and battled and did what he needed to do.”
Lefty Will Sandy filled in for Fischer for three innings of scoreless ball and while Sandy had a very strong outing and got great help from his defense, there was one play that stood out to him among the rest.
For the first time this season, Sandy was paired up with his Tarheel teammate in catcher Tomas Frick behind the dish, creating an all Carolina Blue battery. With Horvath in center, he couldn’t help but to soak it in.
“My favorite part was that I was throwing to Frick for the first time,” Sandy twanged. “I threw a ball in to Frick behind the dish and the ball got hit to center field. I turn around to see Mac catch it. That was awesome.”
“It was pretty cool,” Horvath added. “When I caught the first ball and we came back into the dugout Sandy said to me, ‘That’s what I’m talking about – Frick behind the dish, you in center, it’s just meant to be!’ I thought that was awesome.”
Sandy, righty Justin Willis and righty Nigel Belgrave all combined to hold the Gatemen to just three hits across the rest of the contest, another strong outing by the Bourne bullpen.
Another treat on Tuesday night was the fact that the Braves and Gatemen avoided their fourth straight 2-2 tie after three consecutive matchups with the same result.
The Braves are back in action tomorrow against a reinforced Cotuit Kettleers at Doran Park for game two of the homestand at 6:00 p.m. For Scott Landers, there was no better way to start the homestand than Tuesday night’s performance.
“We did a great job coming out and capitalizing,” Landers said. “We started where we left off in Hyannis before the off-day and swing the bats really well and I’m very pleased with where we are at going into the next three games.”