Orleans is headed back to the Cape Cod Baseball League championship for the first time since 2005 with a dramatic victory over Chatham. In the West, Bourne broke open a scoreless game in the fourth inning and never looked back en route to a victory over Cotuit, which forces a game three.
Orleans 6, Chatham 5
The Firebirds were the hottest team in the league at the end of the regular season, and they’re not cooling off in the postseason.
After watching a hard-charging Chatham team rally from a three-run deficit to take the lead, Orleans immediately scored two runs to tie it then scored what proved to be the winning run in the eighth. The Firebirds are in the finals for the first time since 2005, when they also beat Chatham in the Eastern Division championship series.
This Orleans team won 11 of its last 13 in the regular season, and has now won four of five in the playoffs. That’s 15 of 18 overall, and the only non-wins were a two-run loss, a one-run loss and a tie.
The Anglers still figured to be a very tough out. They had a “team of destiny” kind of feel around them all season, and even after a 7-3 loss in game one, I don’t think anyone would have been surprised to see a game three.
J.D. Davis (Cal State Fullerton) gave Chatham a 1-0 lead with his second home run of the post-season, a controversial one that was apparently caught by Geoff DeGroot (UMass Lowell) as he flipped over the center field fence. Orleans answered and went up 3-1 before Chatham scored four in the sixth. Connor Joe’s two-run homer gave the Anglers the lead.
With the game in the hands of the strong Chatham bullpen, the Anglers seemed to be in good shape, but Orleans quickly answered. In the bottom of the sixth, DeGroot, the ninth-place hitter, doubled and then stole third. He scored on a wild pitch. Austin Davidson (Pepperdine) then brought home the tying run on a groundout.
After a scoreless seventh for both teams, Orleans took the lead in the eighth. Ross Kivett (Kansas State) singled, took second on a balk and third on a passed ball, and scored on a sac fly by Davidson. It was the sixth RBI of the series for Davidson.
In the ninth, Orleans gave the ball to closer Matt Troupe (Arizona) as he tried to shut down a Chatham team that won five games in the ninth inning or later this season.
There was no magic this time. Troupe gave up a one-out single but struck out the other three batters to give Orleans a spot in the championship.
For Chatham, it was a tough ending to a terrific season, the franchise’s best in a long time. I think they’ll be remembered much like the 2005 Chatham team that lost to Orleans – a talented and special group, regardless of where they finished.
Chatham’s loss also means it’s now been six years since the team with the best record in the regular season went on to win the championship. The 2007 Y-D Red Sox were the last ones.
Bourne 8, Cotuit 1
Cotuit starter Tommy Kister (The Masters College) no-hit the Braves for three-plus innings, but once they broke the seal, the floodgates soon followed.
The Braves got their first hit with two outs in the fourth when Jeff Gardner (Louisville) hit a line drive to center that Bradley Zimmer (San Francisco) couldn’t come up with on a sliding try. Vinny Siena (Connecticut) followed with a solid base hit to score a run before Trent Gilbert (Arizona) doubled to score two.
Just like that, it was a 3-0 game, and the Braves never really looked back. They added two runs in the fifth and three in the sixth while keeping Cotuit’s bats quiet the rest of the way.
Gilbert’s two RBI led the offense, while Mason Robbins (Southern Miss) also drove in two. Clint Freeman (East Tennessee State) had an RBI triple, his second in as many games.
Bourne got a strong start from Christian Colletti (Connecticut), who was making just his second appearance. He struck out eight and allowed just three hits in four shutout innings. Michael Costello (Radford) got the win with three strong innings of relief. With the big lead, Will Cox (Mississippi State) and Jack English (Florida Gulf Coast) slammed the door.
Game three is set for 4 p.m. today in Cotuit. Ben Smith (Coastal Carolina), who’s been a steady performer all summer, is slated to start for Cotuit. Bourne’s starter is TBA.