10-Time Cape Cod Baseball League Champions

Red Sox shut down Firebirds

Joey Denato tossed 4.1 hitless innings, picking up the win, in Y-D?s 7-5 victory over Orleans Sunday night.

By: Andrew Constant / @andrew_constant

Morgan Mickan hit his first home run of the summer and Bryan Verbitsky got the final out with two on in the ninth, as the Red Sox (25-17) beat Orleans 7-5 in a potential first round playoff preview Sunday night at Red Wilson Field.

Yarmouth-Dennis built a 7-3 lead after Matt McGovern hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth, but had to hold off a furious Firebirds (22-20) rally in the top of the last frame. Joey Denato, pitching in relief of starter Alex Gonzalez, tossed 4.1 hitless innings, before giving way to Jonny Hoffman in the ninth. Hoffman, a sidewinding right-hander got Angelo LaBruna to ground out to second to begin the inning, but then yielded back-to-back singles to give Orleans runners on first and second with just one out. Y-D manager Scott Pickler went to his bullpen and tabbed Jose Lopez to get out of the jam, but Lopez, signed by the Red Sox last week, didn?t get the job done.

He got Derek Toadvine to ground into a fielder?s choice at second, but then threw a wild pitch, allowing Orleans to score one run, and then gave up an RBI single to Reed Grignani, cutting the lead to 7-5. Pickler went back to the bullpen and called on All-Star Bryan Verbitsky, hoping to just get one more out and seal their sixth straight victory.

Verbitsky worked the count full on cleanup hitter Conrad Gregor, then threw a slider down and in and got Gregor to swing over the top of it, sealing the win and moving the Red Sox closer to first place Harwich.

The game looked like it would be a runaway from the fourth inning on, after Denato entered the ballgame in relief of Gonzalez, who went the first 3.2 innings. Denato allowed just two base runners in his four innings pitched, both walks, and gave the Red Sox bats enough time to get it together and find their groove.

And find their groove they did, thanks in large part to the long ball. Mickan got Y-D going with his first homer of the summer, a three-run blast to right-center, giving the Red Sox their first lead of the game at 4-3.

Three innings later, Robert Pehl launched his sixth home run of the year, a two-run tater over the right field wall, pushing the lead up to 6-3. Pehl, an All-Star in his own right, hadn?t hit a home run since July 30th against Brewster, but still sits second in the Cape League with 38 RBI.

Y-D got a good start from Gonzalez, as he allowed just five hits and three runs. He walked three, but got help from his defense. Zak Blair, playing center field for the first time since late June, made two highlight-reel catches and Alex Blandino made a handful of plays at third base look easier than they were, giving meaning as to why they call it the hot corner.

The Red Sox finish the regular season with a home-and-home series with the Hyannis Harbor Hawks Monday and Tuesday night. Monday night?s game, at McKeon Park, will be the final start of the regular year for Chris Anderson. He?ll look to pitch himself into the playoff rotation with a solid start. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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