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Anglers drop 1st home game in 8-1 loss to Falmouth

by Andrew Crane, 06-29-2021

Anglers drop 1st home game in 8-1 loss to Falmouth

Kevin Parada punched his Mizuno glove and flipped the ball into his right hand. A window for a back-pick of Kodie Kolden had opened, caused by a secondary lead off first that toed the line between aggressive and overaggressive, but the opportunity closed before Parada capitalized. He stood in the right-handed batters box, where momentum had taken him when he scooped an Alex McFarlane pitch and went for the pick, but he lost the ball while transferring to his throwing hand.

That thwarted Chatham’s second chance to escape the sixth inning, still down three. The first came on a foiled double play one batter earlier, when Matt Garcia flipped a ground ball from shortstop to second base, but Seth Stephenson couldn’t make the final throw in time. Then Kolden bolted back to the bag by the time Parada finally recovered after blocking the ball, and the Commodores executed a hit-and-run on the next pitch, a 2-2 swing that Michael Curialle laced through the Veterans Field night and one-hopped to the right-field corner.

Kolden easily scored to sink the Anglers further before they had manufactured a run. The Commodores scored eight runs on the night, and it took escaped jams and a bit of luck for Chatham to keep them there. But the Anglers put six runners in scoring position the first six innings and brought just one across the plate. So that’s why the final stat line for Chatham looked like this: fewer than five hits for the third time in fourth games, fewer than four runs for the seventh time in eighth games, and an 8-1 final score that gave the Anglers a 3-4-2 record, their first time under .500 this season. Everything that’s gone wrong for them continued to go wrong, and it sunk them deeper into the East Division standings with a shortened playoff looming.

“It was just not a great day on either half and didn't make some plays behind us, and we didn't hit,” Chatham catcher Kevin Parada said. “So we had no reason to be in that game.”

It’s the latest example that makes the first meeting between these teams — a tie back at Guv Fuller Field, back on June 20 when the Cape Cod Baseball League returned — look more like an outlier than an output the Anglers could hit consistently. They scored seven runs. Peppered 11 hits. Pressured each Falmouth pitcher by placing runners on base.

Chatham hasn’t neared those numbers since, though, and that’s why a two-run Falmouth single in the first inning on Tuesday could withstand 27 outs and multiple runners in scoring position. Sebastian Keane started the first with two quick outs, forcing a ground out to Andrew Benefield at third and a line out to Matt Garcia at short. But Garcia faded back from his position on the next pitch that floated off the bat of Falmouth’s Brayden Taylor and just kept floating. He called off left fielder Cam Chick, but sprawled to his right at the last second and the ball fell to the ground. Falmouth ripped another hit, this time off the glove of Caden Grice at first base.

A single by Jonathan French followed into right field, and Jake DeLeo’s throw to the plate was cut off by Grice when he slapped it into the ground. That prompted a mound visit from Chatham pitching coach Dennis Cook, another sign that Keane’s start hadn’t opened the same like it did against Orleans, when he breezed through three innings and allowed just three baserunners. He recovered to record two straight strikeouts that ended the second, but he surrendered another run the next inning when Jace Bohrofen stole second base on a first-and-third play, and Parada’s throw was just high — allowing Taylor, on third, to score.

As Falmouth found ways to generate runs through baserunning opportunities and extra at-bats, Chatham’s season-long woes at the plate continued. Commodores pitcher Trey McLoughlin needed just six pitches to breeze through the first inning. Then in the third, he induced a flyout and strikeout after Seth Stephenson beat out an infield single and stole second. David Mendham, just activated Tuesday, hit a two-out double in his first at-bat for Chatham this season, too.

McLoughlin, who didn’t allow a run and struck out four in his five innings of work, had a unique throwing slot way over the top, Parada said, and that made his pitches, especially the slider, difficult to judge. When Anthony DeFabbia entered the game for the Commodores, though, Parada reached base in the sixth inning when he collided with the Falmouth first baseman running out a ground ball, advanced to second on the overthrow, took third on a dropped third strike and finally scored on a passed ball.

“I feel like we've put a lot of balls in play too that've gotten caught ... They'll start dropping eventually,” Andrew Benefield said. “Just keeping a good approach and keeping the barrel on and they'll start falling.”

But since those hits didn’t fall, and haven’t all season, it made the one run Falmouth scored in the sixth, and the three more they added in the eighth, matter even more. They took any late-inning comeback attempts and squashed them before they began, spoiling the final game before Chatham loses Grice, Parada and pitcher Brandon Sproat to Team USA for around two weeks starting Wednesday and adds even more holes in their lineup — one Holliday said he plans to plug by bringing in new players, working with the current ones he has, and hoping that at one point some combination will stick.

"Our offense is not good, period," Holliday said. "I'm looking for more players because we have some guys that are overmatched ... If we strike out with people in scoring position, we're just not very good."

Cade Winquest surrendered two one-out walks after entering in relief for McFarlane in the seventh, and Kolden laid a bunt down the third-base line that loaded the bases. He flipped a soft ground ball to Parada at the plate for the second out, but then there came the bases-clearing double, the “splitter that didn’t finish,” and looked like a poor changeup or slider, Holiday said, and sailed over DeLeo’s head in right before bouncing off the wall. Winquest adjusted his belt afterward, tucked his shirt back in, then grabbed the ball from his glove and immediately whipped it back into his leather in frustration. Winquest was pitching against tension, Holliday said, needing to keep Falmouth off the board again, and that double was “game, set, match.”

“If he finishes that thing and strikes the guy out, it's a piece of gold,” Holliday said. “Otherwise, it's a hanger and it's a banger and the game's over.”

And it was the one, the final damage, that still stayed in Winquest’s mind — and everyone’s mind in the Chatham dugout — after he flipped the ball to Grice at first to end the inning. He lifted his hat, punched his glove, then slowly started jogging back to the dugout.