The Bourne Braves faced quite the ultimatum on Sunday afternoon at Doran Park: beat the Hyannis Mets and gain sole possession of first place in the Western division, or lose and fall all the way down into fourth.
After dropping an 8-4 decision the previous night at Falmouth, one point was all that separated four teams in the Cape League West.
Thanks to a gutsy performance by Bourne starter Nathan Baker (Ole Miss) and the ever-hot bat of Marc Krauss (Ohio U.) the Braves pounded the Mets by a score of 9-2.
“I felt live my teammates in the infield and outfield did all the work for me,” Baker said. “I wasn’t hitting my spots that well but my fastball was working great when I needed it to.”
Baker, primarily starter, had to work his way back into the rotation after two shaky starts and two weeks on the disabled list due to a nagging hamstring and illness.
Braves manager Harvey Shapiro was confident in the young left-hander, putting the ball in his hand in the biggest game of the season thus far. Entering Sunday’s game, Baker had an 0-2 record with an ERA over 4.0.
On Sunday though, Baker pitched five strong innings, giving up only a no damage two-run home run in the top of the fifth to Matt Nuzzo (Brown) in picking up his first victory of the season.
“I kept my pitches low enough and I got my changeup going,” Baker said of his performance. “I’m very excited about the win, it feels great.”
On a day when the pitching performances by Baker and Kevin Landry (William & Mary) were near perfect, the offense was equally as effective, connecting with 14 base hits.
Krauss was responsible for a lot of the damage as he went 3-for-4 on the day with a two singles, a towering home run to left-center and a walk. The Deshler, Ohio native leads the Cape League in batting average and the Western Division in runs batted in.
First Baseman Kyle Roller (East Carolina) also had three hits, all lined singles. Roller will compete in the 2008 Home Run Derby this Saturday in Chatham.
The Braves face the Falmouth Commodores at Doran Park Monday. The game is their last at home for a week as the players will get some much deserved rest in the upcoming days.