By Lance Reynolds
Gutsiness ? that is one of the factors that has helped guide the Y-D Red Sox to three consecutive Cape Cod Baseball League titles. It?s also one of the reasons why opposing head coaches around the league are viewing the 2017 summer season as the ?Scott Pickler revenge tour.?
That gutsiness and a strong season debut for starting pitcher Josh McMinn led the Red Sox in a 4-2 home opening victory over the Orleans Firebirds at Red Wilson Field Thursday evening.
The team?s gutsiness to improve to 2-0 on the season came in the form of small ball, especially when they plated two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning. Jonah Davis led off the bottom of the frame with a single for his first hit of the season and advanced to second on a passed ball during a Carter Pharris at-bat. Pharris knocked a full-count pitch into left field to bring in Davis, who slid under the tag at home for Y-D?s second run. Pharris advanced to second on the throw home. Christian Koss followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Pharris to third. Pickler called for some more small ball, and it was a success as No. 9 hitter Tyler Depreta dropped down a perfect suicide squeeze for the third Red Sox run.
?I think they just executed really well tonight,? Pickler said. ?We got some clutch hits in some key situations. We got the bunts down when we needed it to move the runners.?
McMinn retired the first nine Firebird batters he faced to start his season. The right-handed pitcher out of Oral Roberts threw six innings of two-run ball while striking out five and surrendering four hits and one walk to grab the victory.
?I felt pretty good the whole time,? McMinn said. ?When your fastball command is there, it opens up a lot of things ? you?re able to get outs and go through innings.?
Orleans touched McMinn for two runs in the top of the sixth inning. Cooper Johnson singled to right and came around to score on a double to the left field fence off Jimmy Herron?s bat. Lars Nootbaar, who reached on a walk, scored the second Firebird run on a Brandon Riley sacrifice fly.
McMinn found himself in trouble for the first time when he allowed ?consecutive singles in the top of the fourth, but the righty got through the frame unscathed, thanks in large part to some fine defensive play by Pharris. On what looked like should have been a routine 6-4-3 double play to end the inning, the ball got under Pharris? glove at first on a throw from Koss, who got the start at second base. Nootbaar dashed towards home in hopes of scoring the first Firebird run, but Pharris threw a strike to catcher Dom DeRenzo to get diminish those hopes.
Overall, McMinn was pleased by his performance and is happy to be spending his summer on the Cape.
?This is a fun place, man,? he said. ?The weather is nice, the guys are really talented, so it really helps to have those guys behind you to get those outs when the ball is screaming.?
After going hitless in Wednesday?s season opener at Harwich, cleanup hitter Charlie Concannon recorded the first RBI of the game for Y-D when he lined a single over shortstop and into left field scoring Chris Sharpe.
Kyle Isbel, who went 3-5 in the season opener, continued his fast start to the season on a poke single to left plating Koss for the fourth and final Red Sox run.
Y-D (2-0) and Orleans (0-2) ?are back at it Friday night when the two teams meet again at Eldredge Park in Orleans. First pitch is set for 7:00p.m.