CAPE COD BASEBALL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS: Bird’s Bat Bolsters Harbor Hawks Past Bourne Braves (SLIDESHOW)

HYANNIS — The Hyannis Harbor Hawks plated runs in six out of the eight innings they went to bat Thursday night at McKeon Park, as the hosts downed the Bourne Braves, 10-3, in the opening game of the Cape League’s West Division playoff finals.

Marshall's Corey Bird is welcomed at home plate by teammates RYne Birk (2) and Austin Hays (29) after his towering home run off of the right-field scoreboard at McKeon Park Thursday night as Hyannis beat Bourne 10-3 in game one of the West Finals. Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

Marshall’s Corey Bird is welcomed at home plate by teammates Ryne Birk (2) and Austin Hays (29) after his towering home run off of the right-field scoreboard at McKeon Park Thursday night as Hyannis beat Bourne 10-3 in game one of the West Finals.
Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

The Harbor Hawks collected 11 hits in all, with lead-off man Corey Bird (Marshall) and two-spot hitter Austin Hays (Jacksonville) each turning in three hits. It was Bird who put the icing on the cake, however, as the smooth-swinging lefty hammered his first home run of the season – a two-run shot off the scoreboard – in the bottom of the seventh inning. Bird led the Harbor Hawks with a 3-4 night and four RBI in all, while Hays went 3-5 with one RBI.

Louisville third baseman Blake Tiberi added a 2-5 night at the plate with one RBI.

Florida Gulf Coast southpaw Devin Smeltzer was relatively dazzling on the mound for Hyannis and picked up the victory after he went six innings and struck out four. He did allow all three Braves’ runs on nine hits, but he walked none and proved the model of efficiency.

Aaron Civale (Northeastern) and Columbia’s Kevin Roy finished the game on the mound for Hyannis, with Civale tossing a clean seventh inning and Roy taking the final two frames.

Bourne’s Nick Jensen-CLagg (Kent State) took the loss. He went 3.2 innings and allowed four earned runs on four walks and five hits while striking out three.

Florida Atlantic’s CJ Chatham went 3-5 on the night for Bourne while teammate Brendan McKay (Louisville) went 2-4 with one RBI.

Hyannis southpaw Devin Smeltzer notched the win with six innings of solid work. Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

Hyannis southpaw Devin Smeltzer notched the win with six innings of solid work.
Sean Walsh/Capecod.com Sports

The Harbor Hawks jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning and Bourne answered back with a run in the top of the third inning to even it at 1-1.

But Hyannis proved relentless at the plate with the go-ahead run for a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third and two runs each in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings.

It was the erratic 4th inning that handed Hyannis all it would ultimately need to take the all-important playoff battle.

Virginia’s Matt Thaiss drew a one-out walk and then with two outs Birk walked, followed by teammate Tristan Hildebrandt (Cal-State Fullerton) who also drew a free pass. With the bases juiced, Bird came up and singled to drive in Thaiss and Birk for a 4-1 lead and that was all Hyannis needed to get it done.

The Harbor Hawks (27-19-1) can eliminate the Braves (24-21-2) from the postseason on Friday night at Doran Park in game two of the West Division title series. First pitch is set for 6:00 pm.

— Story and photos by Sean Walsh, sports editor for www.capecod.com. His email is [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @coachwalshccbm

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