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Chatham Clothing Bar
534 Main Street
508-945-5292

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624 Main Street
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Mahi Gold Outfitters

465 Main Street
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Chatham moves into sole possession of first with 4-2 win over Cotuit

by Anthony Dabbundo , 06-24-2019

Chatham moves into sole possession of first with 4-2 win over Cotuit

When Chatham manager Tom Holliday filled out his lineup card on Monday, he added a sentence below the list of his nine batters and scheduled pitchers.

It read: “We are tied for first place!” 

Holliday taped it to the wall three hours before the Anglers game with Cotuit. At 9:48 p.m., the A’s were no longer tied for first. They were alone atop the standings.

Chatham’s bats were held in check for much of Monday night’s make-up game win against Cotuit — they managed eight hits and four runs, both below season averages. But behind two large swings, home runs from Kaden Polcovich (Northwest Florida State) and Jamal O’Guinn (USC) and stellar pitching from three different arms, Chatham (7-4-1) pushed itself into sole possession of first in the East Division in a 4-2 win against Cotuit (6-5-1) at Veterans Field. 

In those two home run swings, Chatham showed what had been missing from the lineup early in the season: power. Combined with an improved defensive performance that posted zero official errors, the A’s pitching shut down Cotuit.

“We played much better defense tonight, we made no errors, and we’re taking that personally,” Polcovich said. “And we need to bring it personally for the rest of the season.”

When asked which side of the plate he prefers to hit on, Polcovich emphatically says the left. On Monday, he succeeded from both sides. In his first at-bat, Polcovich, batting righty, saw a fastball right down the middle and crushed it to left-center for his first home run of the season. 

It was the A’s first hit, a swing that erased a run that RJ Dabovich (Arizona State) allowed in the opening frame. Since the opening week in which Chatham hit just two home runs in its first seven games, the Anglers have now hit seven in their last five. 

In Polcovich’s third at-bat, now facing a right-hander from the left side, he roped a single to left-center. Later, Polcovich nearly hit a three-run home run from the left side, which would have been the first time he hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same game. 

“I’m starting to find my swing, I think,” Polcovich said. “I think it showed tonight and hopefully I can manage that throughout the season. I thought it had a chance, I thought the wind would get it.”

As the Anglers have had players come-and-go, Polcovich has been the A’s versatile mainstay. He’s played five different defensive positions, and Holliday said before Monday’s game that he may be the best defensive player he’s ever coached. When Kettleers’ slugger Oraj Anu hammered a fastball deep in the fifth inning, it was Polcovich who sprinted back and caught the ball with his back to the fence, robbing what he said would have been a home run. 

“I can’t remember the last guy that I coached that can play every position on the field at the highest level of responsibility,” Holliday said. “He’s emerged as one of the unique guys on the Cape, he’s really playing himself into a high draft pick.”

With two outs and no one on, O’Guinn’s towering home run to left-center ended starter Jackson Wolf’s (West Virginia) outing and gave Chatham the lead for good. Wolf had retired 12 straight batters prior to O’Guinn, but the A’s were living up to their “late-inning ball club” name given by outfielder Drenis Ozuna. 

While the A’s are a league worst (.154) with runners in scoring position, home runs wiped away any woes Chatham had of stringing together hits against Cotuit on Monday. Both pitchers dominated early on through what Holliday calls the twilight innings, when hitting is most difficult. Both Dabovich and Parker Scott (Oklahoma State) stifled the Kettleers’ hitters. 

Scott and Dabovich struck out six and allowed just one run and three hits through 6.2 innings. Daniel Federman (Miami) entered to clean up the top half of the seventh after the run support from the A’s top home run hitter. 

“I felt good, finally, it’s been 3 weeks since I’ve been on the mound,” Scott said. “I was changing my speeds, fastball command was OK, my curveball was on, and I mixed in my changeup.”

Once Polcovich singled to lead off the seventh inning, Holliday opted to turn to Alex Toral (Miami) as a pinch-hitter. Toral is off to a slow start on the Cape after hitting 24 home runs at Miami this spring, but his swing and ensuing RBI double that bounced to the wall showed his potential. Polcovich raced around to score from first and Toral later scored on a throwing error by the Cotuit shortstop.

Chatham’s 4-1 lead was enough for Federman, who despite allowing a run in the eighth, pitched a stress-free ninth, struck out five and retired the last five batters he faced. 

Cotuit entered Monday night as the West Division leader and the Cape League’s second best offense. They left with just two runs against the new East Division leaders.