By Mac Friday
(Photo: Braden Reed/Bourne Braves)
As he strutted back out for his fifth inning of work, Braves lefty Hunter Furtado was on an absolute tear. The Alabama southpaw had struck out six straight batters in the third and fourth and took the mound in the fifth to face the five, six and seven hitters of the Falmouth Commodores.
Fully in rhythm, Furtado delivered an 0-1 pitch to second baseman Peyton Stovall which was chopped down the first base line. Braves catcher Alan Espinal sprinted to pick up the ball in fair territory and did so as it trickled out of play. Home plate umpire Michael Farman then called the ball foul, before realizing he might’ve misjudged the call. Both managers emerged to discuss with Farman and the umpire crew decided to call Stovall safe.
Meanwhile, Furtado played catch with second baseman Bryce Eblin to stay hot, but no matter what he did, it didn’t mean much, as Furtado gave up two more singles to load the bases, before a two-out inside-the-park home run by shortstop Alex Mooney gave Falmouth a 5-2 lead which it would not relinquish as the Commodores beat the Braves 10-3 on Friday night at Doran Park.
“I was just working behind and he put a good swing on it,” Furtado said of Mooney’s inside-the-parker, the first of its kind since Gage Workman’s in 2019 with Brewster. “I thought (right fielder) Carson (Jones) might catch it but with the sun in his face, that’s a really tough play… It’s just baseball. Sometimes that happens.”
Braves manager Scott Landers announced after Farman’s call that he would protest the call, which if confirmed means the game will be replayed at the point of the infraction when it was 2-0 Braves.
“We came out strong and there was a bad call,” Landers said. “We are going to protest it and we will see what happens.”
“I saw it called foul, and once it’s foul, it’s foul. I couldn’t see if it was fair or foul from my point of view, so I’m not going to say it was one way or another, but rules are rules.”
Before the hotly debated call in the fifth, Landers was right. His Braves were rolling.
Furtado had only allowed one hit and hit another batter for a total of two baserunners on the evening before the fifth.
“I was just getting ahead and using my off-speed for strikes,” Furtado said. “I used that to put hitters where I wanted and the first four innings were very good.”
On the other side, the Braves scored two runs in the first after center fielder Mac Horvath reached on an error and Matt Shaw singled. With runners at the corners for the red-hot left fielder Evan Sleight, the Rutgers product pierced a 3-1 pitch into center field to score Horvath. A sacrifice fly from first baseman Chris Brito scored Shaw from third to put the Braves up early.
After the Braves roughed up starter Juaron Watts-Brown in the first, the Falmouth righty got into a groove, facing the minimum through the next three innings before walking catcher Alan Espinal to break up a trio of strikeouts. He was not to be denied.
Watts-Brown exited the game after the fifth inning. He only allowed an infield single to Shaw after the first. The righty struck out nine Braves in total and every Bourne batter except for Espinal, Shaw and Brito.
Behind their starter and a strong outing from lefty Garrett Coe in relief, Falmouth jumped on the Braves, scoring a single run in the sixth, seventh, eighth and three in the ninth.
Several of the runs came in on various wild pitches and passed balls by the Bourne bullpen, but it was first baseman Jacob Walsh who put the exclamation put on the offensive outburst.
Walsh hammered a full count slider low and in from righty Justin Willis, tucking it around the right field foul pole for a 341 foot blast. Left fielder Jace Bohrofen had a two-run double in the ninth to extend the lead.
The Braves etched a run across in the eighth as Shaw walked and stole second before scoring on an RBI double by Sleight.
Shaw went 3-for-3 with a walk. Sleight finished at the plate 2-for-4 with two RBI.
Shaw and Sleight will start in the CCBL All-Star Game at Spillane Field in Wareham on Saturday. Seth Keener, Ty Cummings, Chris Brito and Bryce Cunningham will be in attendance as well. The All-Stars will have Sunday off, while the rest of the team gets a pair of days off to recuperate before heading to Worcester to play the Gatemen at Polar Park.
For Shaw and Landers, it provides a good opportunity for the team to get some rest and mentally prepare for the final stretch ahead of the playoffs.
“It’ll be good for us, we need a break,” Landers said. “We are deep in the season now, so two days off will be really good. I think it’s good for every team to reenergize and go from there.”
“Off days are always a good thing,” Shaw added. “Getting the off day and getting some rest is good for everyone to recover and then going over to Worcester could be a really good thing for us.”