By Mac Friday
(Photo: Saylor Murphy/Cape Cod Baseball League)
The Bourne Braves have produced a lot of offense in 2022, especially from the big bats of players like CCBL MVP Matt Shaw, first baseman Chris Brito and outfielder Evan Sleight across the stretch in 2022.
One position group has not performed up to the caliber of the others though, that being the Bourne catchers. Tomas Frick and Alan Espinal have improved over the past few weeks but still trail their teammates in numerous offensive statistics.
In the bottom of the second, numbers meant nothing for Frick. The UNC Tarheel stepped in with two runners on and two outs, destined to close an early 2-0 Falmouth lead. Facing lefy Nolan Morr, Frick sent a 1-1 pitch beyond the Bourne bullpen in left for his first home run of the season at the best possible time, leading the Braves to a gritty 6-5 win.
E2: After JKG's single, Nelson Taylor walked.
Tomas Frick (@DiamondHeels) waited until the playoffs to hit his first home run of the season and boy, was it a big one.
A three-run shot to put the Braves ahead.
3-2 Braves. pic.twitter.com/JrJkqzt10G
— Mac Friday (@macfridayy) August 4, 2022
“There was no better time,” Frick said. “I’ve been feeling good at the plate lately, so I knew it was coming. I just had to stick to my approach and wait for the ball to get there and see him up and in. He did that and I was able to get a good swing on it.”
Frick’s offense inspired another run to cross home in the third, as Sleight and right fielder Mac Horvath executed a double steal with two outs to give Bourne a two-run advantage.
Yet, the Commodores could not be put down. Righty starter Seth Keener battled, despite not bringing his best stuff to the table and got the first two outs of the fourth with ease. Catcher Josiah Cromwick then singled through the right side and first baseman Jacob Walsh got aboard on a ball that shortstop John Peck could have gotten to, but couldn’t glove cleanly. With two runners on, up came third baseman Anthony Mackenzie, the Bourne killer.
Entering the game batting .500 against the Braves, Mackenzie roped a two-run double past the glove of a diving Chris Brito into the right-field corner, knotting the game back at four runs apiece.
Bourne found a way to fight back in the fifth, beginning with a walk by third baseman Ryan Enos. Horvath singled to right after Shaw advanced Enos to second on a hit-and-run and was out a first. With Brito at the plate, righty George Arias took the bump. Horvath attempted to steal second and the throw from Cromwick was errant, allowing Enos to score, giving the Braves the lead. Brito then singled to the infield and Sleight walked. Their Rutgers teammate designated hitter Josh Kuroda-Grauer hit a ball high into right field, giving Horvath time to score on the sac fly.
Bourne scored six runs on six hits, the second time in a week that the Braves have had more runs than hits in a win over Falmouth.
“It was just one of those games where you have to grind,” Frick said. “It’s not one of those games where you’ll have a lot of hits with Falmouth throwing crafty guys, junk ballers. We had to produce runs and that’s what we did.”
Bourne would permit another run in the seventh on a bloop single by right fielder Drew Brutcher, but a strong three and a third innings by lefty Cregg Scherrer kept the Commodores at bay. Scherrer allowed just three hits in his outing, walking two and striking out two. The UAlbany lefty also navigated out of a massive bases-loaded jam in the fifth.
Following Scherrer came the All-Star closer Ty Cummings for a five-out save. With Mackenzie on first, Scherrer’s final batter which resulted in a walk, shortstop Alex Mooney grounded into a double play to get out of the eighth with little effort. Cummings went on to sit down the side in the ninth.
“It’s so much fun to go out there with your blood pumping and adrenaline flowing,” Cummings said. “I love that playoff feeling, it’s been so much fun here when the game really matters.”
The Braves would not have been victorious on Thursday if it were not for the performance of one crucial player though, center fielder Nelson Taylor. Several center fielders have come to Bourne with dramatic speed and defensive abilities, but none stayed for long. Elijah Nunez played seven games, Jack Hurley six. Carson Roccaforte was in Bourne for half of the season and played a good center field, but no one had the performance Taylor had on Thursday night.
On three separate occasions, the Polk State outfielder robbed a Falmouth home run.
The first of his three came in the second, one that Mooney thought was gone off the bat, as he bat flipped on his way to first. Taylor pressed up against the fence and leaned in left-center, robbing a two-run jack.
In the third, he was even more impressive, as Bohrofen smashed a ball to straightaway center. Taylor got on his horse and leaped at the fence, bringing a solo shot back for another robbery.
M3: Nelson Taylor. Highway Robbery.
The @PolkStBaseball product has robbed two home runs today with this absolute web gem to take one away from Bohrofen.
Three up, three down for Keener.
Shaw, Horvath, Brito due up. pic.twitter.com/Of1cSdlxEW
— Mac Friday (@macfridayy) August 4, 2022
Taylor made his final great catch at the warning track, taking another one away from Mackenzie.
“If you come to the games early enough, you’ll see that I work on catches like that in batting practice,” Taylor said. “It was really just adjusting to the wind and the hitters. I have coaches telling me where hitters to hit the ball and I just think to get to the fence as quick as I can.”
“I love making a difference in the game like that and getting the crowd into it, if I can give the crowd and my team the upper hand, that’s a job well done.”
“He made those plays look easy,” Braves manager Scott Landers said. “He played great out there. I thought we’ve played good defense all year, even when we didn’t swing the bats well tonight. We didn’t freak out, Frick came up big with the three-run bomb and we executed some plays to get some other runs.”
The Braves and ‘Dores meet for Game Two at Guv Fuller Field in Falmouth at 6:00 p.m.