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Chatham loses to Harwich, 7-5 for 4th straight game without win

by Andrew Crane, 07-10-2021

Chatham loses to Harwich, 7-5 for 4th straight game without win

HARWICH — Garrett Crowley stood behind the rubber on the mound, twisting his blue Chatham hat around his head and staring out toward the outfield fence. At that spot in the distance, where the green centerfield fence interlocked with the uncovered chain-linked panels beside it at Whitehouse Field, Tatem Levins’ game-winning hit had settled in the seventh inning — and now the catcher stood directly in Crowley’s vision at second base.

Matt Hogan and Jake DeLeo, Chatham’s two outfielders, converged on that spot but couldn’t relay the throw in time for a play at the plate. Crowley’s relief appearance had started like all his others had gone this season, with five consecutive strikeouts and six-straight retired Harwich hitters, but everything unraveled in the seventh.

There was the walk, then the single, then the two outs that positioned a harmless end to the inning, and then the two doubles — the blows that snatched the lead from the Anglers and thrust it into possession of the Mariners. And when the dust settled, Crowley had allowed three runs, more than he surrendered in his previous three outings combined, and that paired with the four that starter Adam Tulloch allowed in his final inning of work earlier, erasing the spark that Johnny Castagnozzi’s return provided and sinking Chatham and its thinned bullpen, 7-5, toward their fourth-straight game without a win.

“It doesn't do any good to win six or seven, you gotta win them all,” Chatham manager Tom Holliday said. “You gotta win nine innings.”

The stretch from Crowley in the seventh erased a lead that the Anglers regained in their previous at-bats. A grounder off Michael Brown’s bat bounced toward Harwich’s shortstop, shallow and soft enough that it threatened to turn into a double play. Chatham had loaded the bases in the sixth inning, a stretch started by Maxwell Romero Jr.’s one-out single, continued by Josh Rivera’s second hit of the night, and nearly finished when Castagnozzi launched a ball just foul down the left-field line on the first pitch he saw.

Four consecutive balls followed, and that brought Brown up to the plate instead. He’d disappeared out of the Chatham lineup the last two weeks, even after Caden Grice departed for Team USA and the Anglers shuffled Andrew Benefield, David Mendham and Lyle Miller-Green at first base — searching for a consistent answer. Brown continued to capitalize on his opportunities, though, and reached base when the double-play turn from Harwich’s second baseman bounced past the first-base bag to score a pair of runs.

It salvaged the final decision for Chatham starter Adam Tulloch, taking a potential loss and instead making it a no-decision. He struck out the side in the first inning, and two more in the next two, but eventually faced a jam in the fourth inning. The first hit broke up his perfect game, the second one broke up his shutout, the third one came after a mound visit from Dennis Cook and threatened to end his night, and the fourth one — the deepest — erased Chatham’s lead and flipped the game for good.

It bolted off the bat of Ben Malgeri, took Anglers right field Matt Hogan back toward the fence and left Whitehouse Field just to the left of the scoreboard. Tulloch flipped his hat up from the mound, and started toward the plate as he received the next ball.

“When a guy can go oppo in this league and hit it out of the ballpark, tip your hat and just keep doing your thing,” Holliday said.

Five days prior, in Tulloch’s last start against Hyannis, he found himself in another fourth-inning jam. He’d cruised through the three that Chatham pitchers usually threw, but then loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth before striking out the side to erase the jam. That lapse in results, Holliday said after the July 5 game, can be attributed to when pitchers try to stretch back out toward a starting-pitcher length. They’re searching for late-inning movement that mirrored the early ones, and results that did too, but that took time — and sometimes trial and error.

That night was the last time the Anglers won. They sunk deeper into the East Division standings, all the way into last place where they now sit, and hit their lowest point on Friday night against Wareham when 19 hitters struck out. But, Holliday said, they had an immediate chance to fix the last night, to make overnight corrections and understand what went wrong.

Chatham put baserunners on in its first three innings, and finally capitalized in the third frame when Michael Brown drew a leadoff walk. Two groundouts advanced him to third, and then the third pitch of Jake DeLeo’s at-bat bounced away from Levins. Brown hesitated. The pitch from Billy Seidl had spiked, hit Levins’ equipment and bounced in between home plate, third base and the Harwich dugout. Brown took a step toward home before skipping back toward third, and then finally broke for the plate and slid in safely with his helmet falling off.

“We were better (at the plate),” Holliday said. “We were sharper.”

They added two more the next inning when Castagnozzi belted a two-run triple, but, besides that and the sixth inning runs, the Chatham bats fell silent once again. Five of their final six batters struck out, and slowly — but a lot slower than the freefall rate that 19 strikeouts creates — the Anglers fell toward another loss.

“It's unfortunate that we score runs and the other team bounces back and scores twice as much or maybe the same amount,” Rivera said. “But I think it's a step in the right direction for us to keep hitting.”