By Mac Friday
(Photo: Braden Reed/Bourne Braves)
Entering the bottom of the ninth on Wednesday night at Doran Park, the Braves needed some juice. All-Star closer Ty Cummings had come painstakingly close to a three-out save in the ninth, but an 0-2 wild pitch allowed the Harwich Mariners to tie the game. Cummings escaped the jam with no further damage and prayed the bats would come to save the day.
Fast forward to a one-out at-bat for catcher Tomas Frick. The North Carolina Tarheel hasn’t had the greatest of seasons at the dish, but recently stepped up his game with a great showing at Polar Park against Wareham on Monday with a triple and several hard-hit balls to the outfield.
With the winning run in right fielder Carson Jones, who led off the inning with a single, at third, Frick just needed to get a ball to the outfield. Braves manager Scott Landers told him to ambush a first-pitch heater, but the Bourne signal caller had a different hunch.
“I got in the box and thought ‘This dude is definitely throwing me a slider,” Frick explained. “Sure enough, he gave me one and hung it and I got a good swing off.”
You’ll often hear the words “Get Up Bourne!” shouted from the dugout during big moments at Doran Park, but in this case, the Bourne crowd was already up. Frick sent the Bravo faithful into raptures, piercing a line drive to left to score Jones and give the Braves the 2-1 win over Harwich, as well as the season series win over the Mariners.
Robb Adams was excellent. So was the bullpen. pic.twitter.com/OQA3poFMcE
— Mac Friday (@macfridayy) July 28, 2022
It was just the fifth hit of the season for Frick, but it wasn’t a surprise to Landers or the catcher. Over the past few weeks Frick has been working hard to get his swing and approach right with Braves assistant coach and MLB veteran Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
“We have been working on getting my hands looser,” Frick explained. “I needed a little more movement and rhythm. The main thing for me though has been mentality. For the past few days every time I go out there, I’m focused on getting the ball on the barrel.”
In the past three games, Frick has recorded a hit in each one and while his turnaround is certainly impressive, it was not nearly as eye-popping as lefty starter Robb Adams’ switch up.
The NAIA Pitcher of the Year from Southeastern originally began his Braves campaign with three relief appearances and an ERA of 7.50, but had never started a game, something he did during his entire tenure at Southeastern and across most of his career. With just three relievers available on Wednesday, Adams also faced significant pressure to go the distance, as the two righties available were Cummings and closer Nigel Belgrave, both high-leverage, end-of-contest pitchers.
Feeling like a fish out of water with Bourne, when Adams was told intended Wednesday starter Seth Keener was scratched due to back spasms and he was to toe the rubber, the Floridian knew it was time to swim.
“This was the comfort zone,” Adams said. “I was so comfortable today. I got to go through my routine at my own pace and everything and just get prepared how I would normally like to. It worked out a lot better than the other times out so I was very happy.”
Adams was tremendous on Wednesday. Despite allowing a single in each of his first four frames pitched, the lefty managed to face the minimum, picking off two Mariners, grabbing one in a double play and Frick caught the final man attempting to swipe second. He had faced the minimum through five.
M2: Robb Adams brought the good stuff today. He struck out the first two hitters he faced in the second and after allowing a single, once again got out via a pickoff.
Lefties do the pickoff best. Check it out. pic.twitter.com/Fn8aAq8tLm
— Mac Friday (@macfridayy) July 27, 2022
“Most of the time they were called pick-offs,” Adams explained. “We were picking anyways, they just decided to run.. (First baseman) Chris Brito had some great plays and we got the guys and it all worked out.”
In the sixth, Adams walked left fielder William Hamiter to lead off the inning, then picked him off. After a groundout, he then walked another Mariner before striking out the final hitter of his outing.
He finished with six innings of scoreless baseball on four hits, two walks and five strikeouts.
“That’s the Robb Adams I thought we were getting,” Landers said. “When we brought him in, he was rusty. He hadn’t thrown for two months and now we’ve seen what he can do.”
Another lefty, Cregg Scherrer came in to relieve Adams in the seventh and tossed two innings of scoreless relief, only allowing the leadoff single to Ethan O’Donnell which would prove to be the tying run after stealing second, advancing on an error to third and scoring on the ball that got away from Frick with Harwich down to its final strike.
Ironically enough, both runs scored ahead of Frick’s walk-off were wild pitches. Third baseman Ryan Enos reached on an error in the fifth, advanced on another error, then got to third on a sacrifice bunt by none other than Frick. Enos scored on a wild pitch issued to Horvath.
During the game, West Division rival Wareham fell to Brewster, clinching a playoff spot for Bourne. For the 12th time in 13 years, the Braves are headed to the postseason.
The Bravos are back in action after the off-day on Friday for their final visit to Whitehouse Field in Harwich.