By Mac Friday
(Photo: Braden Reed/Bourne Braves)
If there was ever any doubt surrounding the phrase “history repeats itself,” for the Bourne Braves, those doubts were cast into the wind on Monday night, as the Bravos tied with the Wareham Gatemen for the third time this season, all by the same score: 2-2.
Each of these games has been just a little bit different. In the first matchup, the Bravos scored on two base hits and a sac fly in the eighth, only to be matched by Wareham, which scored via free passes, small ball and errors. The second matchup on Sunday was defined by extra-base hits.
“Games don’t usually end in ties,” Braves manager Scott Landers said. “This is not something I’ve ever experienced playing baseball, but we don’t play extra innings here.”
“It’s rare, I didn’t even know it was three times in a row until just now,” third baseman Wyatt Henseler said. “Even if we had gone to extras, to have a result like that three times in a row is just insane.”
On Monday, Bourne had two runs on nine hits and certainly had its chances to win. With Vandy righty Bryce Cunningham on the bump, the Braves were in very good hands in the early stages, despite a first-inning solo home run by left fielder Hogan Windish. Cunningham then settled in, whizzing his fastball by Gateman after Gateman. After a two-out walk in the first, Cunningham sat down the next 15 Wareham batters he faced, including striking out the side in the second and a pair of K’s in the fourth.
“My fastball was working really well for me, especially up and in,” Cunningham said. “I got a lot of punchouts, and they were swinging the bat, so it was a good day.”
“He pitched great,” Landers said of his starter. “When you’re efficient and throwing strikes, the pitch counts down, that’s excellent. He honestly had a lot of strikeouts. He got ahead, stayed ahead and put guys away. It wasn’t like he was going deep into counts. When a guy can go out there and throw 70 pitches, that’s awesome.”
In the seventh, Cunningham permitted a leadoff single by third baseman Max Anderson and drilled first baseman Carter Graham. Cunningham wanted to keep going, but Landers took the ball away, tying Cunningham’s longest performance of the summer after throwing six frames against Hyannis last Tuesday.
“I really would’ve liked to have stayed and kept going,” Cunningham reflected. “it was a hitter-to-hitter situation and as soon as I hit my second guy in the seventh I knew it was over. I still felt good but the pitch slipped away from me.
In the bottom of the frame, designated hitter Chris Brito singled with one out, attempting to start a rally, but was thrown out on a fielder’s choice off the bat of first baseman Josh Moylan. Henseler walked, putting two runners on. Left fielder Evan Sleight then put a charge into a ball and it bounced over the right-center field wall for a ground-rule double. The crowd adhered for Sleight’s hit to be his third home run in four games, but the umpires got the call right, putting Henseler at third and Sleight at second. Center fielder Carson Roccaforte flew out to end the inning.
After a scoreless inning and two-thirds from righty Tyler Vogel, Landers handed the ball to righty Nigel Belgrave, who had his toughest performance of the season after allowing three straight baserunners in the top of the ninth via walk, single and a bunt. On the bunt, catcher Alan Espinal attempted to get the lead runner at third, but the throw was late. A groundout to second scored the go-ahead run for Wareham.
Bourne would not go down easy though, as Henseler singled to left with one out and was pinch-run for by Bryce Eblin. Sleight continued his hot streak with his third hit of the night, a single past first base to put Eblin at third. A third single on the first pitch by Roccaforte through the right side scored Eblin and put Sleight at third, but the runner was stranded to end the contest.”
The Braves now extend their lead on the most ties in the CCBL with five. The record in nine by the 1977 Orleans Cardinals, now the Firebirds.
“We battled back which was good and did our job at the end,” Landers said. “But we squandered a couple of opportunities early to push runs across and that hurt us.”
“I don’t think we played poorly at all tonight,” Henseler added. “Hitting up here is tough and we just didn’t have the timely hits that we needed today.”
Bourne will have an off day on Tuesday before facing the Hyannis Harbor Hawks on the road on Wednesday. First pitch is set for 6:00 p.m.