Brian Gilbert, a sophomore from Seton Hall, earned the save Thursday by striking out eight in four innings.
By: Andrew Constant / @andrew_constant
The Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox kicked off the 127th season of Cape Cod League Baseball with a 3-1 victory over the Falmouth Commodores Thursday evening at Red Wilson Field.
Right-hander Aaron Blair toed the rubber for the Red Sox and went five innings, allowing just two hits while striking out eight to pick up the win. For the game, Blair walked two and hit a batter while throwing 50 of his 77 pitches for strikes. Blair, a sophomore at Marshall, went 2-8 in 14 appearances for the Thundering Herd this season with a 3.98 ERA, but struck out 82 batters in 83.2 innings.
Brian Gilbert relieved Blair to begin the sixth inning and promptly picked up where the starting pitcher left off. Gilbert, a sophomore from Seton Hall, struck out two Commodores in the sixth, one more in the seventh, three in the eighth and two in the ninth to give him eight for the game. Gilbert allowed three hits and one run in his four innings of work to earn the save.
Blair gave up a double to leadoff hitter Jared King in the top of the first inning but limited the damage by striking out Billy Ferriter and Jonathan McGibbon, stranding King.
After escaping trouble in the top of the first, the Red Sox gained the advantage just five batters into the season. Third baseman Sam Travis doubled with two outs and would come around to score on a single by first baseman Jake Schrader for Y-D?s first run of the season. The Red Sox loaded the bases later in the inning, but catcher Matt Pare grounded out to second base to end the threat.
Blair pitched himself into and out of trouble again in the third inning. After getting a groundout to begin the frame, Blair gave up a single and two walks to load the bases with one out, but struck out consecutive batters to end the threat.
In the home sixth, the Red Sox mounted another rally, but were only able to get one run out of a potentially big inning. Travis, a freshman from Indiana who hit .319 for the Hoosiers this season, led off with his third hit of the game, a double to left field, and advanced to third on a single by Sean Dwyer.
With runners on the corners and nobody out, Travis was able to score on a passed ball, giving Y-D a 2-0 lead. Falmouth pitcher Craig Schlitter was able to escape the inning without any further damage, getting a strikeout and two groundouts to limit the damage and strand Dwyer at third, after he got there with nobody out.
Falmouth answered back in the top of the seventh against Gilbert, pushing across their first run of the season. Brad Fieger led off with a single to center field and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. After a strikeout, Kaiana Eldredge knocked Fieger in with a single to left.
King followed with a single of his own to put runners on first and second with two outs. Gilbert avoided any further damage by getting Billy Ferriter to ground back to the mound, ending the Commodores? rally.
Y-D struck back in the home half of the seventh, thanks to a RBI double by left fielder Robert Pehl. After Zak Blair led off the seventh with a ringing single to center, the Red Sox were unable to move him up, before Pehl stepped to the plate with two outs and lofted a fly ball over the left fielders? head, giving Y-D a 3-1 advantage.
The Red Sox used three consecutive pinch hitters in the bottom of the eighth inning, getting Tyler Sciacca, Chris Manning and Matthew Reistetter their first at-bats of the summer. In all, 13 position players got action for the first time with wood bats, which the Cape League uses as a substitute for the metal ones that NCAA teams require.
Blair and Gilbert combined for 16 strikeouts and threw nearly 68 percent of their pitches for strikes in limiting the Falmouth offense to just five base hits on the day.
Schlitter and reliever Bret Marks teamed up for the Commodores on the mound and threw 64 percent of their pitches for strikes, but only registered three strikeouts of Y-D hitters.
The Red Sox travel to Orleans Friday for their first road game of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m