Bourne wins Cape Cod Classic for second straight year


On a warm Monday night in front of a scenic Worcester backdrop, the Bourne Braves defeated the Wareham Gatemen in a different, fancier setting. The Worcester Red Sox, home of the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate, hosted the Cape Cod Classic, and the Braves took it for the second straight year. They beat Wareham 6-3 behind another strong start from Tristan Smith, with the offense doing enough early on to make it a comfortable margin of victory.

The Braves jolted ahead with a three-spot in the second inning behind some sloppy play from Wareham. They scored on three consecutive fielder’s choices, with a dropped catch at shortstop on the first one. A second run came home on a passed ball, and Jonathan Vastine added another with a well-placed infield hit.

Bryce Eblin extended his hitting streak to 13 with a leadoff single in the third, and Nu’u Contrades drove him in with a double to right field. Up 4-0, that’s all they could get in the inning after back-to-back strikeouts with two in scoring position.

Smith kept things comfortable for the Braves. He walked the first two hitters he faced, but struck out the next two and didn’t give up a hit until the third inning. The one-out single broke Smith’s streak of 24 straight outs recorded without allowing a hit.

Smith got into mild trouble in the fifth after Wareham’s second hit and a two-out walk, but a visit from manager Scott Landers quickly calmed him down. He recorded three strikeouts in the inning, running his total up to seven through five scoreless frames. He allowed just two hits in his outing, and has permitted only seven in his last four performances.

The Braves tacked on another in the seventh after Josh Kuroda-Grauer and Eblin hit back-to-back singles. It was Eblin’s third hit of the game. Kuroda-Grauer scored on a double play to make it a 5-0 game.

Bryce Afthim pitched two scoreless innings in relief to hold things steady after Smith departed. The only baserunner he allowed was a two-out walk in the sixth.

Garrett Michel led off the eighth inning with a triple, thanks in large part to the outfielders playing notably shallow. They were positioned in all game, and it finally came back to bite them. Michel scored on a Vastine sacrifice fly to run another one on the board for Bourne.

The Gatemen sliced the Braves’ lead in half against Anthony Figueroa in the eighth. An error was erased on a caught stealing, but Figueroa walked three straight batters and surrendered a bases-clearing double.

Derek Bender singled and stole second base in the ninth, giving him a team-high 18 steals without being caught. He set a franchise record for consecutive steals.

Justin Lovell recorded the final three outs and shut the door on a happy win in the Braves’ longest road trip of the summer.

In semi-related news, the Cotuit Kettleers officially locked up first place in the West division on Monday, which means Bourne will face them in the first round of the playoffs. They’ll play August 4 in Cotuit, August 5 in Bourne and August 6 in Cotuit if necessary.

And just in the nick of the time, the Braves and Kettleers will play on Tuesday in a playoff preview. First pitch is set for 4:30 p.m. at Lowell Park.