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Chatham drops 1st game of season to Y-D after rain-shortened 9th inning

by Andrew Crane, 06-22-2021

Chatham drops 1st game of season to Y-D after rain-shortened 9th inning

YARMOUTH — As Aaron Davenport (Hawaii) paced around the mound, receiving the ball back from his Chatham catcher and pushing hair off his blue Anglers cap, pitching coach Dennis Cook popped up from his dugout chair and raced toward the mound. For part of the first inning, and now again in the second, he’d watched Davenport quickly lose command. The walks to start both innings. The bases loaded jam that followed. The two-straight balls Davenport had just thrown Yarmouth-Dennis’ Briley Knight, the second of which prompted Cook’s mound visit.

Davenport landed his next pitch for a strike, worked the count to 3-2, forced Knight to foul a pitch, but then watched as the Red Sox’s No. 9 hitter lined a pitch over the head of Chatham right-fielder Lyle Miller-Green (Chipola College). All three runners scored to give Y-D a 3-1 lead, each a reminder of Davenport’s lost command. He pinned his glove between right arm and chest, slid his fingers around a new ball and stared at the new Red Sox batter, his next chance to regain that lost command.

That extra-base hit by Knight provided the only source of offensive Yarmouth-Dennis needed against the Anglers, especially when the rain started in the sixth inning and forced the Anglers’ 3-2 loss against the Red Sox to end after one out in the ninth inning. After manufacturing a run in the top of the first, Chatham’s bats went silent — generating just five hits even as its pitching staff settled into a rhythm and faced the minimum for its final six innings. On Monday night, it was Miller-Green’s 3-2, two-out swing that lifted the Anglers past Orleans. And the next day, they were sunk by a similar scenario.

“I think the pitchers did a really, really good job minus literally one swing,” Jake DeLeo (Georgia Tech) said. “Without that swing, it's a shutout by them.”

It marked the opposite trend of what followed the Anglers through their first two games. They had the hits, and the hits strung together, to cover lapses the pitching staff might’ve had — and there weren’t many. Chatham’s staff led the CCBL with 29 strikeouts through two games, and Y-D batters struck out 24 times through its opening pair of games. That created the perfect scenario to take an emerging Chatham trend and extend it a little further.

The Anglers gave Davenport an early lead in the first inning when catcher Kevin Parada (Georgia Tech) singled home DeLeo, who reached on an infield single that Y-D’s Brooks Lee backhanded, and he advanced when the shortstop’s throw bounced past first base. DeLeo, now slotted in the No. 2 hole in Chatham’s lineup after rising from No. 8 in the season-opener, added two more hits later in the game to lift his batting average to .500.

But that was all the Anglers managed against Nick Dombkowski, the lefty from Hartford who threw a no-hitter against Albany three months ago and kept Chatham hitters off-balanced with his fastball and changeup mix. He didn’t issue a walk, struck out Miller-Green looking twice and escaped a one-out double from John Michael Faile (North Greenville) by striking out Johnny Castagnozzi (North Carolina) to end the inning on a high fastball. The UNC sophomore tucked his bat beneath his left arm after swinging and missing, removed his helmet and batting gloves, and slowly slumped back to the dugout.

“He did a good job keeping us off-balance,” Castagnozzi said. “He just made some good pitches in good counts, and we just didn't find the barrel.”

The elusive hits and runs made Davenport’s second inning issues throb even more as the innings continued. Adam Tulloch (West Virginia) entered the game, told Parada to call fastballs until Yarmouth-Dennis hit one, and proceeded to throw all fastballs in the fourth inning and only around three curveballs across his final two, he said.

"(The breaking balls) weren't really coming in," Tulloch said, "but I didn't really need them ... I was controlling both sides of the plate, so at least I had that pitch."

Then he passed the ball, and the responsibility to silence the Y-D bats until Chatham’s found a rhythm, to Winquest (Texas-Arlington), and he created similar success. His entrance coincided with the downpour that began at Red Wilson Field, as Winquest’s first warmup pitch in the seventh slipped out of his hand and sailed over the glove of Parada. But he settled down, didn’t allow a baserunner and struck out two batters.

Winquest relied on a mix of his four pitches — the fastball, curveball, slider and splitter — to keep Y-D hitters off-balance, the latter two serving as concrete additions from the summer of 2020 he spent with Tom Holliday and Tulsa of the Texas Collegiate Baseball League adding those pitches. Those additions transferred over into his third season at UT Arlington, where he fought through mechanical tweaks, finished with a 6.96 ERA and laid the foundation for a summer that might launch him higher onto draft boards.

But on Tuesday, it kept the Anglers within striking distance. Chatham crept within 3-2 in the eighth after DeLeo laced his third hit of the game up the middle, and Grice worked a full-count before lifting a shallow fly ball that the Red Sox center fielder lost track of — and a sliding attempt from left fielder Tanner Smith couldn’t corral. DeLeo scored easily from first, though Parada flew out to center field and stranded Grice at first.

Then the rain picked up more, and eventually — after Miller-Green shattered his bat and grounded out to the second baseman — the umpires signaled the end of the game. Y-D third baseman Peyton Graham picked up one piece of Miller-Green’s bat as the Red Sox’s manager and Holliday exchanged slight waves. The tarps, for the mound and for the plate, were carried onto the field, all with the scoreboard still showing a blank ninth inning, only one out, but, right next to that, the Anglers’ first loss of the season.