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Falmouth snaps Chatham's 5-game winning streak in game 1 of doubleheader

by Anthony Dabbundo, 07-05-2019

Falmouth snaps Chatham's 5-game winning streak in game 1 of doubleheader

FALMOUTH — Manager Tom Holliday said that Chatham hasn’t been playing its cleanest baseball. The Anglers have been finding ways to win anyway. 

Despite defensive miscues in come-from-behind wins over Harwich and Orleans, Chatham maintained a steady 4-1 record in one-run games entering Friday. Winning close games can mask deficiencies, but they've now derailed both meetings with Falmouth in the final inning this season.

In the top of the seventh on Friday, Falmouth’s Hayden Cantrelle chopped a single to shortstop. Hueston Morrill (Oklahoma State) chose to throw the ball to first despite no chance to get Cantrelle. The throw flew past first baseman Alex Toral (Miami) to the fence, and Cantrelle took second base. 

Two batters later, the Commodores ended the Anglers five-game winning streak. Two nights after the A’s walked off on Orleans, a game-winning single in the seventh gave Falmouth a 3-2 win over Chatham. Morrill’s miscue and a stagnant offense left Chatham a run short.

“I probably should have eaten it,” Morrill said. "In the spur of the moment, you come in that last inning, I tried to make a play that I shouldn’t have, and it got away from me.”

Morrill played a stellar defensive season at second base for the Cowboys. He’s made multiple high-quality defensive plays for the Anglers already, but he picked up two errors on Friday.

“It’s a young player that’s going to have to learn,” Holliday said. “Great plays are great, when you can afford to throw the ball. Huey is coming back from a great year at second base, and he has to reacclimate himself there.”

Despite the defensive issues, Holliday said that his offense was starting to turn a corner. They showed it in game two, notching key base-hits. But in game one, the Anglers couldn’t come through enough with runners on. 

“I think offensively the song is starting to sound good to them,” Holliday said after Thursday’s win against Orleans. “Let people throw the ball as hard as they want. Your goal is to have nine offensive people, and we’re getting really close.”

The Anglers offense was far from effective in game one, as they mustered just five hits. They put plenty of balls in play, as just five of their 21 outs came via the strikeout. Once the Anglers fell behind early, they didn’t have the same spark as previous comebacks. Even once they regained the lead, the A’s failed to get another baserunner to second base in the final four innings. 

For the fourth time in a row, and the 14th time of the A’s 20-game season, Chatham conceded first. A’s starter Ty Madden (Texas), who had dominated his last three outings, faced a Falmouth offense that was aggressive early in counts. 

The swing-early approach kept Madden’s pitch count down, but also saw the Texas right-hander face more solid contact. In the second inning, Madden allowed a leadoff single, followed by a stolen base. Madden then ran a fastball inside that hit Steven Moretto, and Falmouth had two runners on with two outs. 

Kevin Kendall ripped a single up the middle to center field, and Trei Cruz came around to score easily from second base. 

The A’s are no strangers to going behind, and they responded immediately. Their most-consistent hitter, Jamal O’Guinn (USC), delivered again. After a Kaden Polcovich (Northwest Florida State) walk and a Ben Ramirez (USC) single left runners on second and third with no outs, O’Guinn hit one through to the outfield and brought home both runners. O'Guinn has now reached base in 19 of the 20 games for Chatham this season. 

"Not playing the last five, six weeks of the season, it was like ‘We’ll see how it goes here,’” O’Guinn said. “I feel really comfortable.”

Chatham had regained the lead, but it didn’t last long. Zach Deloach knocked the first pitch Madden threw in the third over Cade Cabbiness’ (Oklahoma State) head in right field for a home run to tie the game. 

Now tied in the fourth inning, Chatham’s offense never found the late-inning spark that had provided the fuel for its winning streak. The Anglers went down in order in the fourth, then squandered a leadoff walk in the fifth with a double play. While Madden finished with four innings pitched and two runs allowed, and reliever Jack Owen didn’t allow an earned run, the Anglers’ fortunate run of wins in one-run games had ended. 

Chatham couldn’t muster a baserunner in the sixth, but a leadoff Morrill walk appeared to be setting up for the Anglers to manufacture another winning run. In Tuesday’s win, a leadoff walk spurned the winning run. Wednesday, a leadoff walk led to an Orleans error that handed the A’s a victory. 

“There’s a million ways to lose a game,” Holliday said. “Just like there’s a million ways to win a game.”

As Chatham attempted a sacrifice bunt with Brady Smith (Florida), the Anglers catcher pulled back his bunt to take the pitch high. As Morrill took off for a second, Kendall, Falmouth’s shortstop, caught the off-line throw and rotated his body to graze Morrill’s head with his glove.

Falmouth had made the defensive plays to preserve the tie. The Anglers were unable to do the same. Holliday has said that in seven-inning baseball, mistakes are magnified. The Chatham defense, which had played one of its best games all season, blinked.