OLD ORCHARD BEACH — The Old Orchard Beach Raging Tide came up short Monday night in their first foray into the FCBL playoffs, losing to the top-seeded Martha’s Vineyard Sharks 7-3 at The Ballpark.
The Sharks beat the Tide two straight in the best-of-three semifinal series.
Old Orchard ran into left-hander John Cook, a sophomore at Amherst College by way of Winnetka, Ill. Cook allowed four hits before leaving after eight innings.
The Raging Tide, seeded fourth, beat the fifth-seeded Pittsfield Sun in a play-in game Sunday. Two hours later they faced the Sharks on Martha’s Vineyard in the first game of this series, losing 4-3. Had the Tide won this one, a final game would have been held on Martha’s Vineyard.
Despite the quick exit, Tide Manager Chris Torres called it a successful season and forecast a league title for next year.
“Anytime you can make the playoffs, it’s a successful season,” said Torres, in his first year. “We had a great group of kids. The owners were great. The attendance was improved from last year. We’re going to build on this. I’m going to bring back the heart of the team and add some players from Florida, my neck of the woods, and bring a championship to Old Orchard Beach.
“The Vineyard is a very good team. Their pitcher threw a great game.”
It was a 4-1 game until the Sharks scored three runs in the eighth inning.
“They’re an experienced team that gets it. We’re a young team. Some of my guys didn’t play much in college last season but with another year of experience, we should be ready,” Torres said.
Trailing 7-1, the Raging Tide scored twice in the eighth on Aaron Wilson’s double to right. In the ninth, the Tide were a batter away from sending the tying run to the plate.
“It’s a testament to my guys the way they battled back,” said Torres.
Torres sent up Jeff Gelinas to pinch hit in the ninth. Gelinas got good wood on the ball, sending it out to right field for the second out.
Gelinas, the recent Thornton Academy graduate, is headed to the University of Maine later this month.
“I’m looking for Jeff to have a nice career at Maine,” said Torres. “He’ll be a player we’ll be counting on for next season.”
The Sharks took a 2-0 lead in the third, and added single runs in the fourth and seventh before breaking it open in the ninth.
The Raging Tide’s offense never came alive against Cook, who mixed his pitches well to keep the hitters off balance. He retired 10 straight in the middle part of the game, many on grounders. All told, he induced 12 Raging Tide batters to ground out.
The Raging Tide hitters were aggressive at the plate all season, which carried over to this game. They swung at several first pitches even though looking at a few pitches might have been the prudent ploy.
But then again, Cook was around the plate the entire game, walking only two.
“We’ve been aggressive at the plate all season,” said Torres. “We’re not going to change what got us here.”
Zach Collett, a former Westbrook High standout who plays at the University of New Haven, hit a couple of long fly balls to left that were caught.
Phil Sciretta, who bats third for the Tide, hit a line shot right at the center fielder in the first.
A few feet left or right and Sciretta would have had extra bases.
It was that kind of night for the home team.
When it did make good contact, it was right at the fielders.
“My young kids got tested under fire,” said Torres. “We’re going to make a go of it next season.”
Asked if he’ll be back as manager, Torres said: “Absolutely.”
Tom Chard can be contacted at 791-6419 or at firstname.lastname@example.org