Making it to the championship series is nothing new for the Falmouth Commodores, but winning games once they get there has been seemingly impossible for the local Cape Cod Baseball League club. The Commodores dropped the opener of the 2014 finals last night, August 14, against the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, as the visitors won a 5-0 decision in front of 2,975 fans at the Arnie Allen Diamond at Guv Fuller Field.
Game two is set for 4 PM this afternoon, August 15, at Red Wilson Field in South Yarmouth. Should the Commodores force a decisive third game it would be held tomorrow at 6:30 PM.
The Commodores last won a championship in 1980, and this is their fifth trip to the finals since 1996. The team has yet to win a game in the championship series, as they were swept in 1996, 2004, 2007 and 2011, and now find themselves trailing in the best-of-three this year, 1-0.
The Red Sox were led by lanky right-hander Walker Buehler (Vanderbilt), who already has an NCAA championship to his credit this year. Buehler was not taking the day off as he dazzled the Commodores hitters over eight strong frames. He allowed Falmouth just three hits over eight innings and walked just one.
Early on, the Commodores had a couple of threats against the game one winner, but twice they failed to deliver with two on and one out. After getting through the small jams early, Buehler cruised the rest of the way before turning the game over to his bullpen with a large lead intact.
“I didn’t think it was as much about us struggling offensively, as it was about Walker Buehler’s pitching,” Falmouth manager Jeff Trundy said. “Once they went up 1-0, I thought he got even tougher.”
While Buehler was getting the job done on the mound, it was his catcher that did the bulk of the damage for the Red Sox at the plate. Marcus Mastrobuoni (Cal State) went 3-for-4 in the game with three runs batted in.
The Red Sox grabbed the lead in the top of the fifth inning, ending the run of zeroes by the two starting pitchers. Matt Hall (Missouri State) hit the first batter of the frame, Josh Lester (Missouri), and that would come back to haunt him later in the inning when, with two outs, Mastrobuoni drilled a rare mistake by the pitcher off the left-center field wall.
Mastrobuoni, who had made a brilliant defensive play from his catcher’s position in the previous inning, lined the ball off both the wall and left fielder Boomer White’s (Texas A&M) mitt. White went a long way to chase the drive and just missed making his second Sports Center-worthy play of the week. Lester scored all the way from first base on the play, giving the Sox the lead.
Mastrobuoni also was in the middle of the big rally in the seventh inning that allowed the Red Sox to blow the game open. Hall, who struck out 12 over six and two-thirds, thought he had Lester rung up for his 13th of the game, but the home plate umpire would not give him the call on a very close breaking ball. Lester then hit the next pitch just inside the right field line for an RBI double. Y-D went on to get two more in the inning, including one on a double by Mastrobuoni. The Y-D catcher also hit a solo home run to lead off the ninth.
If the Commodores can take anything positive out of their rough offensive outing, it might be how they reacted in the past when being shut down. Falmouth suffered shutout losses on three occasions during the regular season. In each instance they came back to win the next two games in a row. They’ll need to do that again if they are to end their championship drought.