Seedings were already set but perhaps Bourne’s two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth of a season finale win over Falmouth was a sign of things to come.
The Braves had more late-inning magic in a sweep of their first-round series with Wareham, and the momentum seems to be rolling now. The Braves didn’t need to wait for a comeback in Monday’s game one of the West finals.
Bourne broke through in the middle innings and handed top-seeded Falmouth its first postseason defeat with a 7-4 victory.
Much of the damage was done against standout Brady Puckett (Lipscomb), who probably challenged his teammate Jeffrey Passantino in conversations about the Cape League’s Pitcher of the Year honor. Puckett hadn’t given up more than three runs in any start this year, but was touched up for 10 hits and five runs – four earned – in 4.2 innings.
Puckett opened the game with two scoreless frames and his team gave him a lead in the top of the first, but business as usual faded in the third, fourth and fifth innings. Evan Mendoza (NC State) had an RBI single to tie the game in the third. John Jones (South Carolina) continued to shine in the postseason, hitting a two-run homer in the fourth inning. And in the fifth, Jake Mangum (Mississippi State) delivered a two-run single that chased Puckett.
Falmouth got a home run from Michael Gigliotti (Lipscomb) – who went 3-for-5 – as it tried to mount a comeback, but Bourne added insurance runs in the seventh and ninth innings.
Mendoza, Connor Wong (Houston) and Brennan Breaux (LSU) all finished with three hits for Bourne and Mangum had three RBI.
Chris Holba (East Carolina), who made three starts and four relief appearances in the regular season, allowed one run in five innings for the win. Jon Escobar (Holy Cross) recorded the save.
Y-D 9, Chatham 8
Y-D’s semifinal series win last year was powered by dominant pitching. The 2016 semifinal series opener was a slugfest, but the Red Sox prevailed anyway, holding off a late push from Chatham to win 9-8. Dillon Persinger (Cal State Fullerton) and Kevin Smith (Maryland) homered as Y-D rallied from an early 2-0 deficit and eventually carried a 9-4 lead into the ninth. Will Toffey (Vanderbilt), Brendan Skidmore (Binghamton) and Nolan Brown (TCU) added three hits each for Y-D. The Red Sox weren’t as good in the field, with four errors allowing Chatham to score six unearned runs. The Anglers got four runs in the ninth and had the bases loaded with two outs when Calvin Faucher (UC Irvine) induced a ground ball for a force at second that ended the game.
What to Watch
Falmouth heads to Bourne at 6 p.m. Jake Bird (UCLA), who pitched five shutout innings against Bourne July 31 in his last start, will get the ball for Falmouth against Doug Norman, who had a 1.61 ERA in the regular season.
Chatham will host Y-D at 7 with Lincoln Henzman (Louisville) on the mound. Henzman had an ERA over five in the regular season but allowed only one run in five innings in his most recent start. Y-D counters with William Montgomerie (UConn), who had a 1.70 ERA while pitching in the rotation and out of the bullpen.