In the 9th inning tonight in Orleans, as the Cardinals drew to within one run of Harwich in the opening game of the eastern division playoffs, I looked up into the night sky above Eldredge Park and noticed a half-moon and a bright star. The two celestial objects appeared ominous. I turned to our fellow CodBaller, Dave Bethel, and asked, "which team is moonstruck and which is star-struck?"
The baseball stars of the future were out in force on the playing field, but on this night it was the Harwich Mariners who held on to take game one of the Cape Cod Baseball League's eastern division playoffs 4-3.
Cotuit won game one, 6-4, of the western division over Falmouth.
Harwich, a team that has languished forever in the East, could hardly wait to get going. Four of their five first batters scored in the first inning. Shaver Hansen (Baylor), Brian Kemp (St. Johns), Tommy Medica (Santa Clara) and Joseph Sanders (Auburn) scored all the runs that were needed tonight. Sanders homered to deep right center. Brandon Belt (Texas) drove in Hansen on a sac-fly to left.
A drought then set in and there would be no more scoring until Orleans' Mike Murphy (Maryland) hit a solo-shot in the 6th. In the 8th inning, Alex Hassan (Duke) and Nate Freiman (Duke) scored.
Harwich closer Steve Kalush (Santa Clara) shut down Orleans in the 9th. J.J. Hoover (West Virginia) pitched 7 innings, giving up just one run on six hits. Willie Kempf (Baylor) game up the other two in the 8th.
Brad Stillings (Kent State) started for Orleans and went 8 innings. He gave up the 4 on 5 hits but pitched well after that. The Orleans infield didn't help Stillings much in the first inning, allowing an error and failing to make a few plays.
Dave felt that Cotuit looked strong over in the West. But they still must face tough Falmouth pitching on Sunday. I think the East remains too close to call. Orleans has not been playing its best baseball lately, but they did not give up tonight and almost came back.