Quick start from Birds offense leads to 3-1 win over Harbor Hawks


(Above photo by Raj Das, ED Photography)

Looking to redeem themselves in front of their home crowd after a crushing 12-1 loss in their last game at Eldredge, the Firebirds set the tone from the jump.

Callan Fang (Harvard) stepped on the mound to open the game for the Birds and started the inning by doing what he's done all season long: strike out hitters.

After the top of the Birds' order was retired, Fang went right back to work, recording two more strikeouts and shutting down the normally hot bats of Hyannis. He quickly recovered from allowing the first Harbor Hawk to reach base with a walk — only his fourth allowed in 11 innings pitched — by throwing out Josh Tate (Arizona) at first to end the inning.

Fang did this all with the Firebirds' newest face, Bennett Markinson (Northwestern), behind home plate, with whom he seems to have an instant connection.

"The pitch calling from Bennett has been great," Fang said. "He showed up two days ago, so this was his first time seeing my pitches, but he did a great job back there."

With a light drizzle falling in the bottom of the second inning, the Birds struck first with a solo home run by Austin Smith.

In the third, the Harbor Hawks quickly countered with a single from Kane Kepley that deflected off the first base bag and sailed into the outfield. Kepely, who's second in the league in steals, promptly stole second to threaten with the tying run.

Fang continued his strong pitching performance and garnered his fourth strikeout, stranding Kepley in scoring position and ending the scoring threat and the inning.

In the fourth, Mason White (Arizona) tied the game up with a solo home run of his own, but Fang limited the damage by getting his fifth and sixth strikeouts to end the inning.

The game remained tied until the bottom of the fifth inning when the Birds drew a leadoff walk, and two consecutive two-out doubles by Lorenzo Meola (Stetson) and Mike Mancini (Vanderbilt) put the Birds up 3-1.

The Orleans bats knocked Luke Nichols (Louisiana Tech) out of the game, which brought Stone Cushing (BYU) out of the bullpen, who was strong in relief and kept the Harbor Hawks within striking distance.

Fang continued his dominant pitching performance into the seventh inning but was relieved by Lucas Litteral (Western Kentucky), who maintained the dominance by striking out the side.

With the hazy rain conditions worsening with mud building up, and both pitchers and outfielders unable to maintain solid footing, the game was called, giving the Firebirds the win.

Fang's solid pitching performance earned him the win, improving his record to 2-1 on the season. After the seven-strikeout performance, he is tied for the league lead in strikeouts and a 1.69 ERA.