Caps struggles against Birds continue, drop fourth straight in 8-4 loss at home

James Tibbs (Florida State) smashing a single in the eighth inning, Tuesday evening. Photo credit: Sadie Parker

By Mark Rappaport

BREWSTER—In the bottom of the seventh, it seemed that Davis Diaz (Vanderbilt) was on his way to tie the game with a long liner to center, but it was not to be.

Diaz hit that ball 383 feet—just two short of Brewster’s center field fence. Firebirds center fielder Colin Tuft (Virginia) had a different plan as he leaped to make an impressive catch to rob Diaz of at least an extra-base hit.

The Brewster Whitecaps (9-15-2) have had trouble against East division opponents in 2023, which continued in their 6-4 loss against the Firebirds (11-13), its fourth loss in four tries against Orleans this season.

“We are frustrated going through the slide that we are going through,” assistant coach Scott Grimes said. “It’s an uphill battle all the time.”

Southpaw Rocco Reid (Clemson) struggled in the top of the first, loading the bases with two outs, giving the Firebirds a prime chance to strike. He walked Fenwick Trimble (James Madison) and hit Jake Casey to give Orleans an early 2-0 lead.

In an attempt to respond, Will Turner (South Alabama) walked to lead off the bottom of the frame and eventually scored off a passed ball, a wild pitch and an RBI groundout by Josh Pearson (LSU).

Orleans tacked on another run in the fourth off Reid as Henry Hunter (Alabama Birmingham) singled and Jack Penney (North Dame) hit a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Hunter and extending Orleans’ lead to 3-1. Reid finished his night pitching four innings, giving up three earned runs off three hits alongside two strikeouts.

“[Reid] got himself into a bit of trouble,” pitching coach Brian Del Rosso said. “When his stuff is in the zone, he plays in the zone he locates; he winds up being okay.”

Orleans was not done, however, as they struck again off a two-RBI blast to right-center by Jake Casey (Kent State) in the fifth.

Josh Pearson (LSU) making a routine catch at home Tuesday, alongside teammate Will Turner (South Alabama). Photo credit: Sadie Parker

Brewster came storming back in the bottom of the frame as Ike Irish (Auburn) singled, Mason White (Arizona) walked, and Diaz came through with two outs, launching a two-RBI single to left, scoring Irish and White to match the Firebirds with two runs on their own in the fifth and cutting the deficit to 5-3.

In the sixth, Orleans’ Jo Oyama (California Irvine) hit a long triple to right and scored off an error on the play. Brewster matched in the bottom of the inning and scored a run as Derek Berg (Army) doubled to lead off the inning and eventually scored off Irish’s RBI single.

Tyler Mudd (Boston College) came into the ballgame and struggled in the fifth and sixth innings but cruised through seventh and eighth innings. Mudd pitched four innings, relinquishing three runs (two earned) off three hits, alongside two punchouts of his own.

In the top of the ninth, Ben Gorski (Rutgers) couldn’t find his command against the Firebirds’ hot offense, walking two and hitting two more. Orleans scored two additional runs to extend their lead to 8-4.

Irish had a strong day at the plate in his return to the lineup, going 2-for-3 with an RBI and a walk. Orleans’ Oyama stymied Brewster’s pitching staff, reaching base four times on the night, keeping up his hitting streak against the Whitecaps as he has batted 8-for-15 in four games. 

Although Brewster’s pitching was not stellar Tuesday night, their offensive struggles persisted. The Whitecaps recorded eight hits but could only scratch four runs, leaving eight runners on base. All season, Bewster has had no problem getting runners on base but getting them in to score has been a different story.

“We’re just going to get back to work,” Grimes said. “We know how talented we are. What we have top to bottom. Just trying to stick with it.”

The Whitecaps look to snap their four-game skid Wednesday evening in a West division matchup with the Falmouth Commodores at the end of the Cape at Guv Fuller Field at 6 p.m.  

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