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2 home runs pair with 12 strikeouts from pitchers, lift Chatham to 4-2 win over Brewster

by Allie Kaylor , 06-23-2021

2 home runs pair with 12 strikeouts from pitchers, lift Chatham to 4-2 win over Brewster

It was a difficult day to be Josh Rivera.

He singled in his first at bat and nearly injured himself stealing second. Teddy McGraw hit his elbow on the first pitch of his second at-bat. Rivera broke his bat on the third pitch of his third. Then he broke his spare bat on the seventh pitch.

After rummaging in the dugout for a minute, Rivera pulled teammate Michael Brown’s bat and stepped up to the plate again. He broke that one too — on the next pitch. The shortstop looked down at his bat, deciding if it was worth it to grab a fourth bat, before sulking back to the dugout, grabbing another bat and sending a 1-2 pitch to dead center field, flying out on pitch No. 11.

Even with his rough night, Rivera scored the first run of the night against Brewster off Matt Garcia’s second-inning single and recorded an out in the top of the ninth. Rivera’s sprint home paired with home runs from Caden Grice and Cam Chick backed up an excellent performance from Chatham’s pitching. Sebastian Keane, Alex McFarlane, Logan Chapman and Zachary Maxwell combined for a 12-strikeout night in Chatham’s 4-2 win over the Whitecaps.

“This is definitely one of the most exciting games I’ve been a part of,” Rivera said.

Before the season, manager Tom Holliday said that he would rely mostly on his pitching — and strong bullpen — to pace the weaker-on-paper offense. But for the most part this season, that hasn’t been a problem. The offense scored 13 runs in the first two games of the season while the pitching gave up 10 runs. Against Y-D, the 3-2 final score was closer to what Holliday alluded to.

Keane threw three-straight balls to start the game and walked the leadoff batter, who proceeded to steal second, starting out more like the first two games of the season. But after mustering a strikeout against the following batter, Keane recorded seven more outs on eight batters to keep the Whitecaps scoreless.

“I hadn’t really seen Sebastian much… he’s an interesting guy,” Holliday said. “He’s a sinkerballer. He’s not a standard over the top guy. He comes out at a different angle.”

He ran into trouble in the third inning, though, hitting Porter Brown on a 1-2 count to bring up Colin Davis, who was batting over .500 through the Whitecaps’ first two games. But a baserunning error prevented Keane from having to get Davis out, as Brown’s secondary lead left enough room for catcher Kevin Parada to throw down to first and easily get the out.

Holliday has maintained three inning appearances for his pitchers through the first three games, and McFarlane came in the fourth to face Davis again. In just seven pitches, McFarlane retired three batters, including a first-pitch groundout and flyout in the last two at bats.

The Anglers kept their 1-0 lead, and it looked like they had a chance to extend that lead in the fourth. Caden Trenkle, making his Anglers debut, chopped a ball through the legs of shortstop Alex Freeland and slid into second. Rivera followed with a hit-by-pitch, putting two on for Johnny Castagnozzi, who hit a home run Monday against Orleans and seemed to have found a groove at the plate.

20210623_ChathamvsBrewster_WillFudge_016
Matt Garcia (Chipola) opened the scoring for the Anglers with an RBI single in the second inning. (Will Fudge/Chatham Anglers)

 

Castagnozzi stepped into the batter’s box and was immediately plunked. Or bounced a ball off the end of his bat. He and Rivera seemed convinced it hit his wrist and stayed put, but McGraw ran forward, scooped up the ball and threw it to the second baseman who flipped it to first, and the umpire signaled a double play.

As Castagnozzi moved his glove to show the umpire his quickly bruising hand, Holliday ran out to argue the call. A meeting of the three umpires determined that the ball hit Castagnozzi’s hand, then his bat, and the call was a dead ball. The third baseman showed a bunt before the pitcher entered his windup, and he appeared injured from the hit. Three of the next four batters struck out to end the inning.

Following another perfect inning from McFarlane, Grice stepped to the plate and, for the second-straight game at Veterans Field, sent a ball over the centerfield fence. Caeden Trenkle worked a full count against Griffin Green before walking, bringing up Rivera to the plate again for the most impressive and strange at-bats of the season.

In the sixth, Crosby Jones, who entered the game for Castagnozzi, led off with a walk. Then, the 5-foot-9 Cam Chick sent a ball to right field that kept going, and going, and Brown knew he didn’t have a chance as the ball landed just on the other side of the 314-foot fence.

Relieving three perfect innings from McFarlane, Chapman struck out Davis and worked the count against Jake Thompson. But a line drive off the leftie’s bat bounced over Trenkles head in deep center field and into the trees behind the fence for a ground rule double that could’ve been worse if it weren’t for the short walls. A single followed, breaking the shutout built on six innings of one-hit pitching.

Chapman worked himself into a jam, allowing singles to load the bases. Left-handed Gavin Cross subbed in for the right handed Christian Pregent, approaching a diamond with the bases loaded and one out. Cross fouled off a pitch on a full count and sent the next pitch directly into Matt Garcia’s glove, who promptly sent the ball to Grice at first to get out of the jam.

“Chapman just made bad pitches with two strikes,” Holliday said. “For a team that had one hit going into that inning, they kinda woke up on him.”

Right after it began, Chapman’s night was over as the Anglers handed the ball to Zach Maxwell, making his season debut. Freeland walked to start the inning and advanced to third after a wild pitch and dropped third strike two batters later.

The Anglers succeeded retiring Davis all night, but a line drive to right field nearly ended that streak. Jake DeLeo sprinted forward and, at the last moment, lept forward in an attempt to rob extra bases. He slid forward and produced the ball, but Freeman was already on his way home by the time DeLeo released it.

“(Maxwell’s) one of those guys that throws so hard he has to find that rhythm,” Holliday said, “but once he did, he’s pretty much unhittable."

Maxwell came back out for the ninth and for the third time that night, an Anglers pitcher issued a leadoff walk. The Anglers clung onto a 4-2 lead, their lead again the Whitecaps, batting .150 gradually shrinking.

A ball popped straight into the air off the bat of Clayton Owens, and Maxwell, Parada and Jones all ran down the third baseline to try and catch it. Parada and Jones collided, the ball hit the ground between them, and Grice swooped in just in time to get the fielder’s choice.

The Georgia Tech reliever, throwing fastballs in the upper 90s, struck out the final two batters to end the game. One of the most effective pitching staffs in the league kept its reputation, and the worst hitting team remained as such.