Alex Gonzalez tossed 6.2 scoreless innings, yielding just two hits, as Y-D beat Orleans 10-3 Monday night.
By: Corey Burns
An eight run sixth inning paired with a brilliant pitching performance by Alex Gonzalez powered the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox past the Orleans Firebirds 10-3 in the first game of the Eastern Division Finals.
Gonzalez said his experience from a year ago helped him, ?Last year I struggled a little bit in a playoff game. I came out and did the same thing I did last year, and what I said in my head was not to fear throwing strikes. I continued to throw strikes and the ball went my way.?
He entered the game with a 3-2 record with a 5.28 earned run average during the regular season. He earned the win pitching 6.2 scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, and recording a season high eight strikeouts.
Gonzalez said, ?It was all about fastball command man. I was able to throw that anywhere, inside, outside, and then the slider was helping me out a lot too. I just got in there and threw strikes, that was my goal.?
The biggest threat the Firebirds gave Gonzalez was in the top of the fourth. Orleans had first and third with two outs and couldn?t get a run off of him.
The Red Sox got on the board first scoring two runs in the bottom of the third, off Orleans starter, Jimmy Reed. Morgan Mickan led off the inning with an infield single. He took second base when Orleans catcher, Max Rossiter, tried to pick him off at first but threw the ball into right field. Carlos Asuaje, coming of a great game in Chatham, hit a single to drive in Mickan and take the 1-0 lead.
After back-to-back walks to Sam Travis and Robert Pehl, the bases were loaded with no outs. Zak Blair grounded to second for what looked to be a routine double play, but Firebirds second basemen committed his first of three errors, allowing everyone to be safe and a 2-0 Red Sox lead. With the bases loaded and still nobody out, Orleans stopped the bleeding quickly. Reed got Alex Blandino to strike out followed by an inning ending double play by Danny Diekgroger.
The Red Sox broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth inning, hanging eight more runs on Firebirds pitching. Blandino got things going with a one out single. Diekgroger followed ripping a double down the first base line. With men on second and third, Justin Shafer drilled a double driving in both Blandino and Diekgroger. Sean McHugh struck out while Shafer was stealing third, another poor throw into the outfield by the catcher allowed Shafer to cross the plate giving Y-D the 5-0 lead. With two outs, Mickan hit his second single of the game. Asuaje followed with his second single, scoring Mickan from first and making the lead six.
Chase Johnson came into relieve Reed, but the Red Sox bats weren?t done yet. Sam Travis hit the Red Sox third double of the inning that scored Asuaje. Robert Pehl swung for the fences, but popped straight up to second base, Derek Toadvine couldn?t handle it. The ball dropped and Pehl recorded an RBI as Travis crossed the plate. Zak Blair, who began the inning with a ground out, hit a single to put men on the corners. After Blair stole second, Blandino hit his second single of the inning to drive in both Pehl and Blair. Diekgroger ended the inning with a ground out, but the damage was done with Y-D leading 10-0 after six innings.
Gonzalez came back in to pitch the seventh. He retired the first two batters easily and then coach Pickler made the pitching change, allowing Gonzalez to leave the field with a standing ovation.
Jonny Hoffman struck out the last batter of the seventh and retired the eighth inning batters in order. He allowed no hits and had two strikeouts.
Orleans had a little spark in the top of the ninth off of Red Sox pitcher, Spenser Linney. Orleans racked up 3 runs off of a walk and two hits, both homeruns.
The Red Sox are one win away from advancing to the Cape Cod Baseball League Championship. They look for that victory tomorrow in Orleans at Eldredge Park, first pitch at 7pm.