Day’s big debut, stellar defense and big third inning provide enough gusto for Whitecaps win

Ernie Day made his first start in the Cape League and blew hitters away, piling up seven strikeouts in four innings. Photo credit Sadie Parker.

by Eamonn Ryan

HYANNIS—Pitchers love when the defense can pick up the slack, and in a 3-0 win for the Brewster Whitecaps (4-2-1) over the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (3-4) Sunday night at McKeon Park, that’s exactly what the Whitecaps’ pitchers provided.

Each play in the bottom of the ninth inning’s scorebook should have stars or exclamation marks next to it, as all three outs came off dazzling defensive displays. First baseman Ike Irish (Auburn) kicked off the frame with an over-the-shoulder catch in foul territory, third baseman Vince Cimini (Boston College) leaped up to make a grab on a hot lineout and right fielder Jaime Ferrer (Florida State) slid on the grass to secure both a pop out and Brewster win.

“Sometimes, you know, it was like, ‘Look what I found,’ and it worked out today,” Irish said.

On the mound, Ernie Day (Campbell) kicked off his Cape League season with four innings of shutout ball and the bullpen combined to allow no hits through the final five frames. 

The hard-throwing righty made his Day-but (it’s Father’s Day and the Whitecaps won, dad jokes are allowed) and looked dominant, going four innings with seven punch outs and no runs allowed on three hits. His fastball touched 97 miles per hour as he only allowed one baserunner aboard after a shaky first inning.

“My game plan was to just attack the zone and pitch my best stuff and I was able to get some strikeouts in there,” Day said. “So I felt pretty confident.”

Ike Irish was a defensive highlight reel for the Whitecaps, with diving stops and over-the-shoulder catches to preserve a win. Photo credit Sadie Parker.

Day didn’t do it alone, however, as he had help from both the rest of his staff and his defense. In the fourth inning, Hyannis’ Gavin Kash (Texas Tech) hit a bouncing ball toward first base that had eyes for the outfielder, but Irish made a diving stab that prevented Kash from reaching base.

“If you make a pitch and they smoke it and somebody catches it, that’s huge,” Day said. “That helps a pitcher and the pitcher is always relieved when a nice play is done.”

Dylan Hoy (Marist), the ultimate utilityman, manned shortstop Sunday night and made a barehanded grab and threw over to first in the fifth, then kicked off a 6-4-3 double play that ended the seventh to provide support for a pitching staff that collectively struck out nine batters.

After Day’s outing culminated, Brewster manager Jamie Shevchik turned to Jacob Riordan (Arkansas-Pine Bluff) for the fifth and sixth innings, which went about as well as Shevchik could imagine. Riordan allowed just one baserunner, off a walk, and punched out two hitters.

“Out of the pen, a little bit of a different look for [Riordan] but I thought he handled himself well,” said pitching coach Brian Del Rosso. “I thought he pitched in the zone enough and gave us a shot.”

Jacob Riordan was part of a bullpen that dealt five innings of no-hit ball for the Whitecaps. he punched out two hitters and allowed just one baserunner. Photo credit Sadie Parker.

Making his first appearance, Andrew Shaffner (NC State) was the final pitcher of the night for the Whitecaps and he was lights out, forcing plenty of weak contact as he allowed no hits in three innings.

Saying that offense in this contest came at a premium would be a generous statement. The Whitecaps recorded five hits, but only put them together in the third inning, when two walks and a single loaded the bases for Dylan Leach (Missouri). Leach hit a sacrifice fly to the left fielder, scoring Hoy from third.

The best hit of the game drove in the next two runs, as outfielder James Tibbs (Florida State) rocketed a pitch into the right-center field gap to plate Vince Cimini (Boston College) and Irish to give the Whitecaps a 3-0 lead. Tibbs came into the game with just two RBI, but the power-hitting lefty was able to double that total.

“I was just looking for something up in the zone that I could try to push to the outfield, drive those runners in and [Irish] was able to run pretty fast around the bases,” Tibbs said. “That was pretty sweet, but definitely something that was needed for myself and for us.”

But once that third inning ended, both teams were stymied by the opposing pitching staffs, as neither offense mustered a hit until Irish dribbled an infield single in the eighth inning. 

Pitches and defense often win championships, but Sunday that duo combined to push the Whitecaps to a tie at the top of the East division.

“We’re having a lot of fun in here and our guys are starting to gel a little bit and we’re starting to really put some quality games together and hopefully it’ll lead them to more wins,” Del Rosso said.

The Whitecaps return home Monday to take on the Wareham Gatemen for a 5 p.m. matchup at Stony Brook Field.

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