“It does feel like a loss.” Were the words of the Brewster Whitecaps manager, Jamie Shevchik, after his team tied the Orleans Firebirds on Sunday night.
Brewster had 2-0 lead over their eastern division foes with two outs in the bottom of the 8th inning, before a walk and a two-run home run by Firebird, Shay Whitcomb tied the game. Neither team could produce offense in the 9th inning, and because there are no more extra inning games for the rest of the regular season, the game ended in a 2-2 tie.
Things started off well for Brewster, who came in winners of three of their last four. The Whitecaps led off the game with two hits by Brett Auerbach and Jesse Franklin, both runners came around to score on RBI groundouts by Gage Workman and TJ Collett. It looked like the Whitecaps had Orleans starter, Dawson McCarville, on the ropes after throwing over 30 pitches in the first inning. But after a shaky first frame, McCarville silenced the Brewster bats through 5.2 innings.
Connor Shamblin got the start on the mound for Brewster, and completely stifled the Firebirds bats through seven innings of work, the longest start for a Whitecap this season. Shamblin did not allow a run, scattering four hits and four walks. After the game, Shevchik had nothing but praise for the righty from Alabama, “Connor threw really well, it looked really good, and he gave us a chance to win…I tip my hat to Shamblin, if we get into the playoffs, he’ll be ready to start one of those games.”
The momentum seemed to change in the game when Orleans manager, Kelly Nicholson, was ejected after arguing a call in the eighth. Brewster had brought in Sean Fisher, who had a 1.27 ERA in 21.1 innings, and it looked as though his dominance would continue as he recorded two quick outs. After arguing a call at first base, Nicholson was ejected but continued to yell at the umpires for several minutes. Eventually Nicholson walked off the field, but went through the field of play to a gate in right center field, extending the delay. When play finally resumed, Fisher walked Max Troiani and then allowed the game tying home run to Whitcomb.
Shevchik did not think the delay hurt his pitcher’s rhythm, but admitted it gave momentum to Orleans. “I’m not putting this one on (Fisher), he’s been awesome for us the entire summer, we just didn’t score enough runs. We had opportunities to possibly put this game away early, but we couldn’t get it done.” After tallying three hits in the first, Brewster recorded just three more for the rest of the game.
With the tie, Brewster falls three points behind Harwich for the fourth and final playoff spot in the east. They will have plenty of opportunities to make up ground in the last four days of the regular season, with five games, two of which against Harwich.
And although it may have felt like a loss, Shevchik realizes the importance of the tie. “I’m thankful we at least grabbed a point. A loss could have devastated this team. So hey, we still got some games to play, a lot can happen, we’re going to throw all the chips in and play some baseball.”