Braves encounter controversy against Commodores, grab vital West Division win

The second matchup in just over a week between Bourne and Falmouth was shrouded in a controversial decision, as the Braves scooted past the Commodores 2-1 on Sunday.

Braves navigate controversy versus Commodores, grab vital West Division win

By Mac Friday

(Photo: Braden Reed/Bourne Braves)

It wouldn’t be a proper Bourne vs. Falmouth matchup at Doran Park without a little controversy.

On Sunday night, for the second time in just over a week, a game between the two sides hinged on a crucial umpiring decision in a tense situation. The last time the two sides faced, it was a foul ball that was overturned into a single, resulting in the game being played under protest, a decision made by Braves manager Scott Landers. Falmouth went on to win 10-3.

Sunday’s debate was over a combination of batter interference at the plate by Falmouth center fielder Andrew Pinckney and an out at second base as Bourne catcher Alan Espinal caught Jace Bohrofen swiping second to end the inning. The original call by home plate umpire Louis DeLuise was that both Pinckney and Bohrofen were out, but much to Landers’ demise, the call was overturned.

And it wasn’t a pretty few minutes either.

Landers was toeing the line of toss. The Braves players left the field, with just the Commodore, Pinckney, staying around home plate with his helmet and batting gloves on. Braves lefty Cregg Scherrer had time to go to the dugout and grab a drink before the commotion ended. DeLuise initially wouldn’t let Scherrer warm up again, something even Pinckney questioned before stepping back into the box. Then the home plate umpire changed his mind and let Scherrer throw one, a fastball right down Broadway. Both dugouts were into it. It was chaos.

Eventually, the Braves manager realized his debate was in vain, he had argued for the wrong call. Pinckney later turned that situation into a double, putting his threatening speed in scoring position with two outs for right fielder Drew Brutcher, who Scherrer emphatically struck out.

The Braves went on to win the contest 2-1, maintaining the one-point deficit between Bourne and Hyannis for first in the division.

“I’ll be honest, I was wrong,” Landers chuckled. “I got all riled up for nothing because I thought they made the wrong call when in reality it was right. So, I apologize for that. It wasn’t strike three as much as I thought it was. You don’t want to deal with a guy like Pinckney on base.”

For the Bravos, they struggled to get runners on base after a first-inning flurry. Second baseman Matt Shaw hit a one-out single and stole second before first baseman Chris Brito walked. An Evan Sleight groundout moved both runners into scoring position before right fielder Mac Horvath smacked a double into left-center field to clear the bases.

The Braves would grab just one more hit on the night before the bats went cold, a single through the right side by Espinal.

With just seven hits over the last two games for a team that can explode on offense at any given time, it can seem worrisome for the Braves, especially when the pitching is doing its job, holding the lowest team ERA on the Cape.

“We are going through a little lull right now, but I know we will be alright,” Lander said. “We have a couple of days and a day off to get back on track. We are facing a bunch of lefties right now so we have to find a way to be where we need to.”

“We weren’t on time with the fastball today,” Horvath added. “We were a little late… I’d rather get these low-hit games out of the way while we still can before playoffs though, so hopefully, that’s the way it goes.”

The Bourne bullpen continued its hot streak on Sunday, as three different relievers held off the Commodores’ resilient offense, which combined for eight hits.

After a strong performance in which he struck out the side and navigated out of numerous jams, lefty starter Will Sandy ran out of gas in the fifth, permitting two singles with no outs.

Normally a closer, righty Nigel Belgrave was due to throw and tossed two innings of scoreless relief after a shaky start which saw him walk the bases loaded after an infield single and free pass. Belgrave escaped the jam with a clutch unassisted double play at the hands of shortstop John Peck, but not before a run crossed on a passed ball. He ended the frame with a strikeout and grabbed another in the seventh. He was named the winning pitcher.

Scherrer was even better, allowing two hits and two walks as he struck out three. He nearly held on for the two-inning save but allowed runners at the corners for the red-hot shortstop Alex Mooney. Landers went to his All-Star closer Ty Cummings to end the game and the Campbell Camel did his job.

The Braves head out on the road for the final time this season on Monday to face the team they are currently tied with for second place in the West, the Cotuit Kettleers. The two sides are each half a game back on Hyannis with 49 points, as all three contenders for first in the West won on Sunday.

First pitch is scheduled for 4:30 p.m.