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Chatham’s offense shows up early in 6-5 win over Falmouth

by KJ Edelman, 07-05-2019

Chatham’s offense shows up early in 6-5 win over Falmouth

FALMOUTH — Rounding the bases was becoming easy, at least for Tyler Doanes (West Virginia). The Anglers were up five runs after an RBI triple from the second basemen, who had lengthy lead off third during the next at-bat. 

A wild pitch slithered down to the backstop and Doanes jogged 90 feet to score. When he reached the plate, Doanes didn’t step on home. Instead, he extended his right index finger to lighty touch it. That easy. 

“Honestly, it was instinct,” Doanes said. “Just have a little bit of fun.”

Following the week’s worst offensive performance in game one of its doubleheader against Falmouth, Chatham responded with six runs in the first four innings of game two. What started with a Charlie Welch (St. John's River State College) home run ended with Doanes’ taking home plate. The Anglers (13-7-1) held a 6-0 lead, and despite five unanswered runs from Commodores (9-8-1), Chatham hung onto win, 6-5, in seven innings. With the victory, the Anglers have now won six of its last seven games and owns sole possession of the best record in the Cape League. 

The start of Chatham’s week-long offensive outburst came on Monday. Manager Tom Holliday called the performance — a 15-run outpour — one of the closest things he’s seen to a “perfect” game. That outing was followed up with back-to-back eight-run performances against Orleans and extended Chatham’s win streak to five.

“I think we’re settling in,” Doanes said. “We’re kind of sort of getting in a rhythm. No more rainouts. We get to play and it’s showing.”

But the start of Friday’s doubleheader halted that momentum. An early run was undone by a two RBI single from Jamal O’Guinn (USC), but when the Commodores responded, the A’s bats went quiet. A walk-off broke the winning streak, but its first-game performance would just be an outlier of Chatham's hot week. 

Jorge Arenas (Stetson) opened the second frame with a double off the right field fence. Up next was Welch who entered Tuesday with an 0-for-25 stretch that spanned back to the first game of the season. The conclusion of it was inevitable, but since its finish, Welch has done more than just break his cold spell — he’s been one of the Anglers best hitters.

Friday continued that trend. Welch ripped a 1-2 pitch over the left center wall that brought home to him and Arenas. And like Welch’s recent success, the Chatham offense opened up with him.

Kaden Polcovich (Oklahoma State) led the third inning off with a single. O’Guinn did the same, moving Polcovich to third. When pitcher Robert Ahlstrom tried to pick off 6-foot-4 O’Guinn, the ball hit the umpire’s foot and reached the infield grass to allow Polcovich to score. 

O’Guinn went first to third on an overthrow at second on a steal attempt and Kendrick Calilao (Florida) got him home on first Cape League hit to extend the lead to 4-0.

“That two run cushion to four makes it easier to pitch,” Holliday said.

Daniel Federman (Miami) preserved the lead on the mound. Two runners on with no outs in the first inning turned into zeroes for the Commodores. A runner in scoring position the next frame was remedied by a slow breaking ball that found Arenas’ mitt in foul territory. His only lapse came in the bottom of the fourth, but the Chatham lead was still four when he departed.

A third straight two-run inning started from Welch, again. A four-pitch walk got him to first and with two outs, and Doanes brought him home. Doanes’ trot to home mimicked a routine he does at West Virginia. When he hits a ball well, but it lines out into a fielder's glove, Doanes jogs to first and touches first base with one finger. Because he knew he’d score on the wild pitch, he ended up doing it again. After his touch of home, the Anglers had a 6-0 lead through four.

In its last three games, Chatham struggled to hold sizeable leads — the Anglers blew a three-run lead Wednesday and nearly lost a seven-run lead on Thursday. Friday, Falmouth came close to leveling the score.

“You’re starting to see the character of the guys we have here,” Holliday said. “We’re trying to build a ball club we want to build for Chatham.”

When Tyler Dunn came up against reliver Mason Hazelwood (Kentucky), pitching coach Dennis Cook conferenced with Hazelwood. With a 2-1 count, Dunn roped a single to right to cut the lead to 6-4. 

“It’s a tough feeling,” Doanes said. “We need to work on closing games a little better. Lately, we’re making it interesting.”

Hazelwood got out of the jam and Dawson Merryman (Texas) went out for the seventh-inning save. The sidearm pitcher got through two outs, but allowed a home run on his third batter. He struck out the next hitter on a called third strike to end the game.

Like before, the Anglers slowed down as the game went on. But their lead was large enough to let that happen.