Moylan's magical walk-off pushes Braves past Mariners

Josh Moylan had his best performance in two seasons with the Braves on Wednesday night, hitting a walkoff ground-rule double to push the Braves past the Harwich Mariners 7-6.

Moylan’s magical walk-off pushes Braves past Mariners

By Mac Friday

(Photo: Braden Reed/Bourne Braves)

With the bases loaded, one out and down 0-2 in the count, Braves’ first baseman Josh Moylan stepped back into the batter’s box. After a 0-for-11 start to his second year in Bourne, Moylan had managed to log his first and second hits on the season on Wednesday, notching the Braves’ first home run at Doran Park this season, as well as a clutch two-run single to bring the Bravos within one run in the seventh.

The Bravos needed their second-year man to come through in the waning moments, and with just one more moment necessary to cap off his best performance in a Braves uniform, there was no one else more fit for the job.

Moylan pieced a breaking ball to center field, sending it scorching through the late June air. The ball bounced at the warning track and hurtled over the wall for a ground-rule double, scoring two runs as the Braves walked it off to win 7-6. Moylan stood on second, his glasses arched up on his face with a smile wider than the Doran Park outfield. The Braves swarmed their first baseman, showering him with a water jug bath, a worthy celebration for a team that had nothing but ties and losses in disappointing fashion since last Friday.

“I was just trying to go in there and do a job,” Moylan told Brave sideline reporter Ethan Frank afterward. “I was just trying to tie the game up; I didn’t want to lose again after our little losing streak. I just wanted to go in there, find the ball, do something with it and get a run in.”

Over the past few days, Landers has harped on his team needing to stick with a solid approach in the batter’s box rather than swinging wildly and often. However, Moylan quickly found himself in an 0-2 hole in two out of his three crucial plate appearances, and thanks to his coaches and analytics staff, he knew what to expect.

“He did a fantastic job all night,” Landers said of Moylan. “With the hit up the middle and the last at-bat, he had two strikes both times, but he did it two different ways. (Harwich reliever Gage) Ziehl is a fastball guy and (Harwich reliever Hunter) Hodges is a breaking ball guy. He stuck with his plan and got the job done.”

The Braves jumped out to an early lead on Wednesday in the second inning, as center fielder Carson Roccaforte reached on a fielder’s choice. The Louisiana-Lafayette Rajun Cajun then stole second and ran on a full count payoff pitch issued to left fielder Evan Sleight, who fired a single into right field to score Roccaforte.

Moylan then hit his solo shot to right-center, exorcising the Bravos’ home field home run demons at Doran Park, giving the Braves a 2-1 lead after Harwich struck in the third for a single run.

Moylan wasn’t the only one to exorcise demons on Wednesday though. After a three-game, five-day hitless run for one of the premier bats on the Cape, right fielder Jack Duffy, the future Houston Cougar finally managed to get the ball to land for hits on Wednesday. Duffy hit his first home run of the season in the fifth, grabbing a walk in the seventh and the single which started the rally in the ninth. For the best hitter on the Cape across the first two weeks of the season, Wednesday night was a major sigh of relief.

“For the first two weeks I had pretty good luck,” Duffy began. “I was hitting the ball hard and some were grounders that just got through, but the last couple games the harder I hit it, the more outs there were. I just stuck with it and tried not to focus on results because baseball is a sport where you can do everything right and still fail.”

“I’ve been told by people to stick with it, but it’s hard and it’s also easy for others to say when they aren’t playing. When you have negative thoughts going through your head, you have to push them out and think about the positives. No matter what you just have to trust it. Eventually, it will all work out and you just have to stay locked in every at-bat.”

However, Duffy’s efforts looked futile in the fifth and beyond, as it looked like the Braves were in for another loss thanks to another single-inning meltdown in the top half of the fifth which looked like it had spoiled another Bourne victory.

Wednesday’s meltdown began in the fifth inning. After a one-run fourth from starter Adam Tulloch, who allowed just four baserunners on two hits, the Arizona state lefty came back out for the fifth. Tulloch permitted a leadoff single just past the leather of shortstop Lane Forsythe, then recorded an out on a grounder back to him at the mound. He then walked center fielder Cole Harding and was pulled.

In came righty reliever Reese Sharp, who induced a fielder’s choice, but left fielder Pres Cavenaugh beat the throw to first. Right fielder Tommy Seidl then put a charge in one to center, scoring two runs on a standup triple. Shortstop Nick Goodwin then doubled to score Seidl. A single by Joe Vetrano scored Goodwin before he advanced all the way to third on two wild pitches. Sharp was pulled for righty Seth Keener after allowing three earned runs with just one out recorded. Second baseman Graham Pauley looked like he was bound to be the final out of the frame, but a throwing error by Forsythe allowed Pauley to reach and Vetrano to score.

Tulloch took responsibility for one of the runs which crossed in the fifth, but Sharp fell responsible for three on three hits and a walk with five hitters faced. Keener then escaped with a strikeout to end the frame.

After putting out the fire, Keener took the hill inning after inning as the game stretched on. The Wake Forest product allowed just one hit after the disastrous fifth inning, and while Moylan stole the spotlight, Keener certainly got his fair share of deserved credit.

“I want to congratulate Seth Keener tonight,” Landers said. “He did a great job coming in and holding down the fort so we could have the ability to come back.”

“I just wanted to go in there, throw strikes and compete,” Keener reflected. “My pitch count is pretty built up after starting some games at Wake this year, so I was prepared to go the distance. Overall, I just wanted to throw strikes and let my defense work behind me because I know they’re good and I love watching them play.”

“Seth was fantastic,” Tulloch added. “That’s exactly what we needed in a game like that where the other team is up big and to have him come in and do what he did, that’s big time.”

The Braves began to rally back in the bottom of the seventh, catalyzed by a one-out single from Forsythe. Duffy walked on four pitches, then advanced to second on a delayed groundout to short. Designated hitter Chris Brito was hit by the first pitch he saw, loading the bases.

Harwich countered by bringing in Gage Ziehl, who has allowed just four hits in four innings of work for the Mariners. With two strikes on swings and misses, Moylan found the pitch he wanted, firing a two-RBI single up the middle to score Forsythe and Duffy and bring the Bravos within one.

A leadoff single from Duffy, walk from second baseman Matt Shaw and Brito’s third free trip to first on the evening, Moylan was set up for his magical at-bat and delivered.

After losing three of their last four, a five-run comeback might just be exactly what the Braves needed to put some wind into their sails. At 6-7-3, the Bravos embark on a two-game road trip to West Division last place Falmouth and East Division last place Chatham, whom the Braves beat 5-4 last Wednesday.

“When you go through a couple of games when stuff is not really going your way and you get a big walk-off win where everyone is up and positive, you have to keep it going,” Duffy said. “We have to find a way to keep it rolling and keep the good vibes going and it’ll be all good.”

“We have so much energy now,” Keener added. “The fans are going to be so happy to come. A win like this is huge for the team, honestly. The guys are going to be more excited to (play). I can’t put it into words what this game does for us, so hopefully, we keep it going and win some more games.”

“Yesterday we barrelled up some balls and didn’t get the hits,” Landers said. “Today I thought we did the same thing and we had nine hits today so I think we are getting there. We definitely had better at-bats and this is good for their confidence, but it definitely is going to propel us. We needed to get over the hump and that’s a big one to get over right there.”

The Braves are back in action at Guv Fuller Field in Falmouth against the Commodores on Thursday for their first 7:00 p.m. game of the season.