By Mac Friday
(Photo: Braden Reed/Bourne Braves)
After a magical defeat of the Falmouth Commodores in the West Division First Round, the Bourne Braves move on to face the Hyannis Harbor Hawks in the West Division Finals, starting with Game One at Doran Park at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday.
Here are four keys for the Braves to follow in their second playoff series in order to advance to the CCBL Championship Round for the second time in as many years.
- Continue to let Bryce Eblin set the table
The Alabama infielder has been rock-solid for the Braves in what is essentially just one playoff game for the Braves after leaving Game One early with a finger injury that kept him out of Game Two. In Game Three, Eblin went 3-for-5 with an RBI and a run scored, leading off the Bourne lineup and setting it up for success with his speed on the basepaths.
Eblin is also a Hyannis killer, hitting .524 against the Harbor Hawks, good for 11 hits and three RBI in 21 at-bats against Hyannis this season. He has a team-best 1.157 OPS against Hyannis as well, and has reached base 17 times in 27 plate-appearances.
2. Get a quality start in at least one game
No Bourne starter made it further than four innings across the entirety of the series against Falmouth. Seth Keener allowed four runs in four innings of work. Hunter Furtado only made it two and two thirds innings giving up seven, with just three earned in the massive Falmouth seven-spot in the bottom of the third at the Guv. Will Sandy opened Game Three for just two and a third innings before he was pulled. In order to preserve the health and readiness of the Bourne bullpen, which is still surprisingly deep for the Hyannis series, a start of five or more innings would be a treat.
Vanderbilt starter Bryce Cunningham went for six innings against Hyannis earlier this season allowing just two hits with five strikeouts. He’s the only starter confirmed for Bourne in any game this series and it all starts when you hand him the ball at 6:00 p.m. tonight.
3. Awaken the batt of Matt Shaw
The barometer for success in any series for Bourne, when the Cape League MVP is swinging the bat well, the Braves are very difficult to stop. Shaw is 0-for-10 in the playoffs with an RBI, two walks and a trio of strikeouts. Shaw finally made an impact against Falmouth in Game Three with a sacrifice fly to score Mac Horvath to open the contest. Shaw batted.385 against the Harbor Hawks in the regular season, playing in all six games with 10 hits in 26 at-bats, including the first Cape League cycle in 11 years on July 17. A fun note about that game – the Hyannis starter was Jay Driver, the same starter for Game One in Bourne.
4. Keep Rikuu Nishida and Mitch Jebb off the basepaths
The stolen bag leader and MVP runner up are two of the biggest threats to run wild against any team. Against the Braves, Nishida stole five bags and Jebb two. Good news for Bourne though, Jebb wasn’t able to swipe any bags against Cotuit in the first round, while Nishida went 3-for-4. Nishida flashed his speed immediately in the Cotuit series with a straight-up swipe of home, a rarity in any level of baseball. It’s imperative the Bourne catchers are prepared for them to run at the top of the order.
Bourne vs. Hyannis in the West Division Finals begins at 6:00 p.m at Doran Park