ORLEANS — A total of 10,808 fans watched Cape League baseball’s opening day games on Sunday, June 20. That’s more than double the 2019 opening day total of 4,828 fans.
In Orleans, at the Firebirds’ opener, it looked like an all-star game: the hill that sits in front of Nauset Regional Middle School was completely full, and the ballpark was buzzing with fans, photographers, and team personnel taking in the first action in 682 days for the 10-team conference, widely considered the top collegiate summer baseball league in the country.
The Firebirds’ game against the Harwich Mariners came on Father’s Day, and the chance to spend the evening watching baseball in its purest form brought generations together.
The game started out slow, but Firebirds designated hitter Julio Marcano (New Jersey Institute of Technology) sent a solo home run over the left field fence in the third inning for the first run of the game. The Birds scored two more in the fifth and another two later to go up 5-0.
Outfielder Chase DeLauter (James Madison University) capped the night off with a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh. Pitcher Nick Wallerstedt closed out the game, with Orleans taking home an 8-1 victory.
The Birds lost their second game of the season 6-3 to the Chatham Anglers on Monday in front of another packed crowd in Chatham.
The Firebirds play the Cotuit Kettleers at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 24 at Eldredge Park. It’s safe to say an exciting season of summer baseball awaits. —Ryan Fitzgerald