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5-run 1st inning by Red Sox sinks Anglers, 6-3

by Allie Kaylor , 07-06-2021

5-run 1st inning by Red Sox sinks Anglers, 6-3

First it was a double. Then a single on the next pitch to put runners on the corners. Alex McFarlane had pitched himself into a jam two batters into his first Cape Cod Baseball League start. He even looked shaky on the ensuing strikeout, placing a ball in the dirt and getting a borderline strike call from the umpire.

On a two-ball count to Kody Huff, he popped one up in the air heading toward fair territory. A few feet closer or a few feet further, it’s an easy popout that keeps the runners on the corners. Instead, it targeted no-man’s land, the Bermuda Triangle between Jake DeLeo in left, Caeden Trenkle in center and Josh Rivera at shortstop. All three charged toward the center, and two fell back when DeLeo called them off. He dove, and just missed the ball, landing a few feet in front of a standing Trenkle looking down at him.

Both runners scored as Huff reached comfortably with a single. It was the start of a five-run inning for the Red Sox, a lead that McFarlane, who struck out five batters and allowed just one hit in the following two innings, couldn’t come back from. The Anglers chipped away at the lead and came within three runs at two points, but couldn’t get any closer — despite bringing the tying run to the plate in the ninth — in a 6-2 loss to first place Yarmouth-Dennis.

“It’s just one of those days that wasn’t (McFarlane’s) best stuff,” Chatham catcher Maxwell Romero Jr. said. “In the second inning he came and shut the doors down. He did a really good job.”

McFarlane walked the next batter and hit another to put two more runners on. Following the hit by pitch, Sebastian Keane, who was set to come in in the fourth inning, started stretching out to enter the game early if needed. One pitch later, Andrew Compton sent a ball rolling toward the corner. DeLeo grabbed onto the ball and turned around to throw as the first run scored. He fired it to Rivera, who sent the ball home on a bounce, beating out Y-D shortstop Pascanel Ferreras by several feet. Compton scored on a single, but a fly ball to left field ended the inning and prevented even more damage.

When McFarlane took the mound in the second, he dealt with just a four-run deficit this time. Lyle Miller-Green sent a team-leading fourth home run of the season over the left field wall on the first pitch he saw. Peyton Graham knew it was gone off the bat, jogging back a few steps before turning around and watching it fly just below the scoreboard.

McFarlane looked like a completely different pitcher in his second inning of work, getting ahead 0-2 on Graham before striking him out and fanning another on four pitches. He looked more in control — hitting his spots, throwing breaking balls like they were supposed to be thrown. Fastballs that were squared up in the first were missed the second time around. A batter that reached on a dropped third strike was picked off, and a six-pitch walk was stranded by a looking strikeout.

In the third, a leadoff single reached third on a wild pitch and passed ball, but McFarlane stayed calm. A lineout to second baseman Danny Serretti kept the runner on. Both of the next batters worked full counts and sent a couple pitches just foul, dangerously close to landing fair and starting another rally. But McFarlane won both battles, striking the pair out swinging to keep Luttrell on third and keeping the game within reach for the Anglers.

“We mixed it up a little bit more. That first inning we got a little on the fastball side,” Romero said. “Me and him spoke, you know, ‘Let’s mix it up a little bit,’ and that’s … when we got them off balance.

20210626_ChathamvsHyannis_WillFudge_043
Caeden Trenkle (Oklahoma State) reached base at least once for the third-straight game he's started. (Will Fudge/Chatham Anglers)

 

In its last three losses, Chatham spun out of control when the other team led. Offenses stayed quiet as pitchers collapsed, and one-run leads turned into five-plus. Orleans turned a 4-3 Fourth of July lead into an 8-3 win. The week prior, Brewster scored seven runs in the final two innings to turn a 2-1 lead into a 9-1 win. And the day before, Falmouth won 8-1 after scoring four runs in the last two frames.

But Tuesday, the Anglers kept chipping at the lead while keeping the Red Sox at bay. Caeden Trenkle led off the third inning with a walk, just the second Chatham batter to reach all day. A groundout pushed him to second, and when a pitch bounced off Nathan Baez, Trenkle broke for third and beat the throw by several feet. When he scored on another wild pitch to turn it into a three-run game, a win suddenly seemed in reach for the Anglers, as long as Keane and the offense continued to do their jobs.

The Anglers scored again in the seventh, once again bringing the deficit to three after a sixth-inning run by the Red Sox. Matt Hogan, pinch hitting after reaching base twice the day prior, walked to represent Chatham’s first base runner since the fourth inning. Josh Rivera lined a ball to the deepest part of the park, scoring Hogan and putting another runner in scoring position with the tying run on deck. A groundout ended the threat, and stopped scoring for both teams on the night.

But part of the reason the game was never out of reach for the Anglers was the bullpen work of Sebastian Keane, making his first relief appearance of the season, and David Falco, whose three innings were his longest outing of the season. The three pitchers combined to allow 16 hits, but just two went for extra bases, and both were in the first inning.

In the sixth inning, Zach Lew hit a hard ground ball to Andrew Benefield at third. He made an impressive stop to prevent it from reaching the outfield, and his throw to first was nearly in time. But it wasn’t perfectly on target, letting Lew advance to second on an error after his single. He scored later after two more batters sent hard-hit ground balls directly up the middle. The Red Sox had been getting lucky hits all night, from ground ball lasers to fly balls just out of reach of a fielder. Over half of the balls they put in play went for hits.

“(We) got unlucky with the wind, it kind of knocked down the balls that should’ve been caught,” Romero said.

After three shutout innings from Falco, who was working on a cutter grip prior to the game, he said, the Anglers had one final chance to tie or win in the ninth. Lyle Miller-Green led off the ninth inning with a single, his second hit of the night after his first inning home run. A one-out hit batter brought the tying run to the plate. There are no extra innings this year due to COVID-19 protocol, so a home run would’ve prevented a loss, sealing a five-run comeback for the Anglers.

Chatham manager Tom Holliday had emphasized the small hits all year, building singles on singles to manufacture rallies instead of relying on home runs. It worked against Hyannis, where the Anglers won 4-1, and had the potential to work again Tuesday. But they never got a shot, as David Mendham grounded to the second baseman, and two quick throws shut down the Anglers and ended the game.

“We’re coming together more and more as a pitching staff and hitting group. One swing would’ve taken everything,” Romero said.