Braves go winless at home in doubleheader against Red Sox

Braves go winless at home in doubleheader against Red Sox

Braves go winless at home in doubleheader against Red Sox

By Mac Friday

(Photo: Braden Reed/Bourne Braves)

The Braves returned to Doran Park on Monday after Sunday’s doubleheader against the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox was postponed due to wet weather. The Braves came away winless on the day, losing the first contest 4-2 and tying the second at two runs apiece.

Game 1:

The Braves came out of the gate hot, knocking on the door of scoring early in the first thanks to an electric inning from TCU outfielder Elijah Nunez, making his first start on his first day in Bourne. Nunez led the game off with a single, before advancing to scoring position on a wild pitch. The TCU outfielder then very quickly swiped third base. First baseman Chris Brito manufactured a walk on a full count to put runners at the corners and advanced to second on a sacrifice fly, but both runners in scoring position were stranded.

Bourne starter Hunter Loyd came under fire in the second, giving up a leadoff ground-rule double to third baseman Mike Boeve, who advanced on a wild pitch. A hot grounder to third baseman Wyatt Henseler was handled, but airmailed over the head of Brito, scoring Boeve. Loyd permitted another baserunner but navigated the jam and escaped with no further damage.

The Braves manufactured two runners in scoring position in the second with a fielder’s choice from catcher Ryan Proto and double from second baseman Bryce Eblin, but a groundout from Nunez at short stranded both.

After facing the minimum in the third, Loyd fell under the Braves’ starter fourth inning curse, as he walked the first batter he faced in the frame, then allowed a pair of singles, loading the bases with no outs to work with. A sacrifice fly to center put Y-D up two runs, but with some help from his defense, Loyd stranded the remaining two runners.

Rutgers righty Sam Bello took over for Loyd in the fifth, facing four in that frame with his only baserunner coming on an error on shortstop John Peck. In the sixth, Bello permitted Boeve’s second leadoff double, and Boeve advanced on a wild pitch. He came across on a sac fly to right field.

Bourne finally managed to score in the sixth after Brito led off with a walk and designated hitter Jack Duffy singled. Left fielder Evan Sleight then singled up the middle, a ball which was not collected by Y-D shortstop Hunter Haas, scoring Brito. Duffy scored on a worm burner up the middle hit by catcher Ryan Proto, which bounced off Y-D reliever Dylan Ray’s throwing hand. Ray attempted to throw the ball with his hand stinging but could not complete the handoff.

Y-D etched another run across in the seventh after Bourne reliever Bennett Flynn loaded the bases with one out on two hit batters and a single. Haas scored after Flynn walked designated hitter Jordan Thompson with the bases loaded.

Brito doubled in the bottom of the seventh but became the seventh and final Braves runner stranded in scoring position in the first contest.

Game 2:

The second game of Monday’s doubleheader was much of the same for the Braves, as they failed to capitalize on scoring opportunities. John Peck, playing third base in Game 2, led off the second inning with a walk, then stole second. After a flyout to right, Y-D issued back-to-back walks to the next two Bourne hitters, scoring Peck. A sac fly from Nunez to right scored Sleight to etch the second Braves run across home plate.

One major difference between the first and second games on Monday was Bourne’s starting pitching, which picked up significantly due to the electric start of righty Ryan Fischer.

The New Jersey Institute of Technology product shoved through his five innings of work, not allowing a single Red Sox hit, issuing two walks and sitting down five on strikes through 17 batters faced.

Fischer also received some serious help from his defense. With Y-D left fielder Caden Connor on third after trotting around on a walk and a sac fly, designated hitter Johnny Long put a charge in one, sending a towering shot to right field arching foul. Duffy took a look at it, but lost it in the light and let it drop. Shortly afterward, Long hit a carbon-copy ball into right, but this time Duffy charged it hard. Crashing into the right field wall and folding over the short fence like a Slinky, Duffy sold out and came up with the catch for the third out.

“On the first ball I couldn’t even follow it in the sky,” Duffy said. “A couple pitches later it was in the same spot pretty much, just a couple feet farther and over the fence and I was running towards it and I lost it for a second. It came back into my view and I saw the fence in the corner of my eye so I checked the fence and I gave it all I had and I came up with it.”

However, much like the first game, following Fischer’s start the bullpen struggled. Righty Tyler Vogel loaded the bases with a single sandwiched between a pair of walks with one out. With the bases loaded, first baseman Luke Franzoni sent a ball back to Vogel, who flipped it back home for the force out at home. However, Vogel then issued a walk to Long, bringing in the first Y-D run of Game 2.

Despite just one base hit on the evening, Y-D managed to manufacture another run in the top of the seventh. After being down 0-2 to righty Seth Keener who entered in relief, catcher Luke Shliger walked, then stole second. Second baseman Jordan Thompson hit a hard grounder to shortstop Dakota Harris, who flipped the ball to Brito, but the ball was dropped at first. Shliger, the eager opportunist at third, committed to taking home plate and scored the tying run in the melee.

The Braves put together a formidable comeback effort in the bottom of the seventh with two outs with Brito on third and Duffy at first, but a Peck strikeout sealed the deal.

Through the two games, Bourne scored four runs on nine hits, leaving a whopping 17 runners on base. 13 of those baserunners were stranded in scoring position.

“We had chances in the first game, and we didn’t capitalize on them and they squeaked a couple runs in later,” Braves manager Scott Landers said. “We have to have better timing and better at-bats overall. It’s coming and going and we can’t just go. We have to win games that are ugly sometimes which we didn’t do today.”

“We didn’t get our easy RBIs like we normally do and that’s what hurt us,” Duffy said. “We had a couple opportunities, myself included in both games, we just have to be better as a team and get those easy RBIs when you can.”

Bourne also had a trio of newcomers play on Monday night in Nunez, Virginia Tech’s Jack Hurley and Louisiana-Lafayette’s Carson Roccaforte. For fresh arrivals who haven’t faced live hitting in weeks, adjusting immediately to action and changing to wooden bats can be quite the challenge.

“We had some guys who just got here, I mean Hurley got here halfway through the first game and played in the second, so they will get there,” Landers said. “We got most of our guys in now and we will get them some swings and get them ready to go.”

“We just have to get going and get to winning,” Brito added. “We can’t lose games that are winnable like this especially after we gave up just one hit, so we can’t keep losing like that.”

Bourne is back in action against Y-D at Red Wilson Field in Yarmouth on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.