By Ben Strober
The top of the tenth inning was eerie for the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox for multiple reasons.
For one, a bright and sunny scene at Red Wilson Field morphed into a fog-covered field of darkness. Additionally, Orleans had the go-ahead run sitting 90 feet away with one out.
The play at first a batter before, was really close, and that call didn’t go Yarmouth’s way. Manager Scott Pickler argued momentarily before letting Leighton Finley get to work.
Finley dealt to Jack Penney and forced a grounder at first baseman Jakob Christian. Christian made a great read and saw a play at the plate was coming. Christian’s throw, however, took Will King too far to his right, allowing the eventual winning run to score.
“We forgot how to play catch there for a moment,” Pickler said. “That’s how it goes sometimes.”
Hunter Hines mashed two homers and drove in all four YD runs, but Orleans prevailed in extras, 5-4, ending the Red Sox’s three-game winning-streak.
The Red Sox offense notched just four hits, and excellent pitching still wasn’t enough.
“They fought and came back again,” Pickler said. “Hines had a big day for us.”
YD starter Eric Yost’s first batter of the summer singled, but Will King had his back, nailing the runner trying to take second.
On the Orleans side, Jake Peppers took the hill, and he put himself into a jam in the second with two walks.
He worked himself through, however, inducing an inning-ending pop out.
A leadoff error from RJ Austin helped Orleans strike first in the third. The man on second advanced to third on a grounder, then a wild pitch from Yost brought in the lead run.
Peppers was excellent in negating YD offensively. That was until he faced Hines for a second time.
Hines crushed Peppers’ first-pitch fastball to center for a game-tying shot.
“I was just trying to stay to the middle of the field,” Hines said. “Didn’t play well last night, so I was just trying to keep my swing simple.”
Hines’ 17 RBIs, and five homers is the best in the entire CCBL.
“It’s a good feeling, but I got to keep going,” Hines said.
Yost loaded the bases before he retired a single Firebird in the fourth, prompting his removal. Pickler summoned Connor O’Hara to clean the mess.
Holding Orleans scoreless would be a lot to ask of O’Hara, and to no surprise, the Firebirds took the lead on an Owen Carapellotti single. A sac-fly from Jake Hyde five pitches later extended the Orleans lead to two.
Both offenses silenced for two innings until YD put Orleans in a jam in the sixth.
After a potential inning-ending double play was narrowly beat out by Max Viera, the bases soon loaded for Christian.
Christian got caught way out in front of a nasty changeup, ending the threat.
In the meantime, O’Hara quietly turned in an excellent relief appearance.
The Red Sox are no stranger to late-inning heroics, so trailing in the seventh, the battle ensued.
The Red Sox put two on with no one out, forcing another Orleans call to the Bullpen. The Firebirds responded with two quicks out, but Hines struck again.
Hines destroyed his second shot to center for a two-out, go-ahead, three-run moonshot. In that flash, YD went from down two to up one.
Hines’ blast changed everything. Suddenly, Jackson Roberts entered for the Red Sox, needing six outs to seal a fourth-straight win.
That one-run lead Hines just obtained evaporated fast. Penney came up clutch for Orleans, cranking out a two-out game-tying shot to right.
Orleans forced the go-ahead run to third in the top of the ninth. That was no matter for Finley, as he calmly ended the threat with a huge strikeout.
Orleans shut down the Red Sox’s effort at a ninth-inning walk off and sent it to extras.
Char Gartland fanned all three YD batters in the 10th to send Orleans home winners.
“We had some calls go against us tonight, and that’s part of the game,” Pickler said. “We’ll be back to play again tomorrow..”