Late-game heroics lift Braves over Harbor Hawks in season opener
By: Nick Galle
After a hiatus that lasted well over 600 days, the Bourne Braves were back at Doran Park Sunday night for their first game of the 2021 season, as the Hyannis Harbor Hawks came to town.
It was a pitching duel throughout the majority of evening, as both teams combined for 12 hits and no runs through seven and a half innings. But then in the bottom of the eighth, the Braves found their offense.
Dalton Rushing broke the scoreless tie with a towering blast to right field, and after Colby Thomas walked, Braylen Wimmer sent one over the left-field bullpen to give the Bravos a 3-0 lead. That would be all it took to give Bourne its first win of the summer.
Rushing said he was sitting on a fastball with the 2-0 count and received the take sign, but went ahead and swung because he hadn’t looked down the line to pick up the sign.
“I guess it kind of worked in our favor in the long run,” Rushing said. “But for the future, I think I’m going to take that pitch.”
Gordon Graceffo got the start for Bourne and gave up four hits and struck out five through four scoreless innings of work. After walking just 13 batters through 82 innings with the Villanova Wildcats this past season, Graceffo’s control was on point to start the summer, as he allowed no runners to reach on the free pass.
“It was great to be back out there,” Graceffo said. “Great to have a great team behind me, great guys in the pen, it just felt amazing.”
Despite being in the midst of a heavyweight pitching battle, Graceffo maintained his cool to keep his team in the game.
“Regardless of the score you’re just trying to throw strikes, trying to get in and out as fast as possible to get the offense back at the plate,” Graceffo said. “Guys were having great at-bats, we were getting on base, we just (had) tough luck the couple first innings.”
Field manager Harvey Shapiro stuck within the conference and turned to Nick Swack, who went four shutout innings to earn the win. He gave up just one hit, walked one and fanned six.
Eric Adler came in for the save, and despite running into some trouble after Luke Mann singled and Mitchell Hartigen doubled, the Wake Forest product retired three of the next four Harbor Hawks to work out of the jam.
In his return to Bourne, Kyler Fedko went 2-for-4 with two singles and a walk. The Big East Player of the Year hit .171 with four doubles, three RBI and seven runs scored in his 2019 stint with the Braves. Rushing was also strong at the dish, going 2-for-3 with the home run, a single and a walk.
The Braves will make the trip to Brewster tomorrow for their first road game of the season at 5:00 p.m. The Whitecaps are coming off a 5-5 tie against the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox.
Cover photo via: Joe Sullivan