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5-run 4th inning lifts Chatham over Brewster in fog-shortened game

by Allie Kaylor , 07-14-2021

5-run 4th inning lifts Chatham over Brewster in fog-shortened game

The game didn’t stop when Matt Hogan almost lost a ball in the air. It didn’t stop when Chatham manager Tom Holliday made a defensive switch in between the fifth and sixth inning. It didn’t stop when Victor Mederos started tossing warm up pitches before his first inning of work.

Instead, it stopped just before 9 p.m., when the fog was so thick that it was nearly impossible to see the outfielders. After Mederos had thrown one warmup pitch before the sixth inning, the umpires gathered on the first baseline and decided to delay the game for 30 minutes and make a final decision by 9:26.

“It was crazy, we haven’t really seen a thing like this,” Chatham designated hitter David Mendham said. “(If the) ball was over the lights, you couldn’t see it.”

As the fog rolled in and out of the outfield grass at Veterans Field, some Whitecaps players threw a football back and forth while the Anglers danced along to the Bruce Springsteen song playing over the speakers. The umpires reconvened 30 minutes later and called off the game. Cheers erupted from the Chatham dugout as they were handed a 6-3 win after the game became official. The six runs were tied for Chatham’s second-most of the season, and they did it with eight hits after struggling to get on base in the last several games.

“(We did) some of the things we’ve been talking about, putting the ball in play instead of striking out so much,” Anglers manager Tom Holliday said. “And we ran, we had a couple holes created by running… that’s what we gotta do.”

The fog level at Veterans Field varied between a light mist and a thick layer that concealed the outfield wall for several hours before first pitch, which was delayed 10 minutes.Around the time it was delayed, Holliday stood in center field as an assistant coach hit a fly ball to see if it was visible through the fog.

When the delay ended, Bryce Osmond jogged out to the mound for his third appearance this season, two weeks after making his debut at Stony Brook Field in Brewster, allowing two runs and walking four. After his following start in Cotuit, Holliday said he looked “uncomfortable” on the mound, giving up two runs on six hits in an eventual 8-3 loss. But in Osmond’s first inning on Wednesday, he faced just three batters. Spencer Jones walked after working a full count and was promptly picked off several feet away from first base. A strikeout followed, and Osmond safely exited the first inning.

His one mistake came in the third inning when Zach Neto sent the first pitch he saw over the fence in right field. He shook it off, took a few steps back to the rubber and blew two strikes past Jake Thompson before he grounded out on the third. Neto wasn’t the final baserunner allowed, but Osmond faced the minimum in the fourth when Lyle Miller-Green started a double play at first.

“He throws the home run ball, we gotta get that out of his DNA,” Holliday said. “He’s gotten a little bit rigid, a little bit high in his legs and pitching up in the zone. And we’re trying to get him ... down in the strike zone. He was better tonight.”

Chatham’s first run of the night came after a peculiar sequence: After fouling a ball down the third base line in the bottom of the inning, Caeden Trenkle advanced to first on a line-drive single over second base. One pitch later, McGraw tried to pick off Trenkle but whipped the ball into right field. When Thompson tried to run after the ball, he ran into Trenkle trying to advance to second. Trenkle slid into third easily after the throw from right field pulled Cooper Weiss.

Miller-Green fouled off two pitches in the next at bat, and on the third, McGraw slipped off the rubber during his windup, landing on his back with his feet in the air. Trenkle strolled home on the balk and McGraw retired the batter on a groundout to second base.

Victor Mederos (Miami) only threw one inning before Chatham’s game against Brewster was called due to fog. (Will Fudge/Chatham Anglers)

McGraw threw six pitches in the second inning and struck out two batters in the third, but then he fell apart on the mound. He struck out the first batter in the fourth for his third-straight strikeout across two innings, then gave up four hits in five batters, a fielder’s choice, and another single as Hunter Owen entered the game, but not before the Whitecaps already trailed five runs.

“They jumped on the fastball early in the count, and that paid off,” Holliday said. “We’re not the home run team we were when we started. So we gotta string it, we gotta take walks, we gotta run, we gotta do everything just like we did tonight.”

On Chatham’s Tuesday off day, Holliday told all of his players to stay as far away from the field as they could and try not to think about baseball, he said. Two weeks ago, the Anglers spent their off day at the field watching film and working on hitting approach. He took the opposite approach on this off day with eight straight games looming on the other side of the break.

What followed was the five-run inning, the Anglers’ most productive inning since an RBI walk and grand slam in the top of the first against Harwich put them up 5-0. Two days prior, the Anglers had just two hits over the course of the game. This time, it took them two innings to hit that mark, and three-and-a-third to beat it, and they did it all without the long ball.

As the thick fog rolled in in the fifth inning, Victor Mederos entered on the mound needing three more outs to make the game official. The first batter popped out to right field, and Hogan made the catch despite the low visibility. “I saw it off the bat, then it disappeared for like four seconds,” he said. Another strikeout put them one out away.

But Mederos fell behind in the count against Mac Bingham, and a five-pitch walk gave the Whitecaps their first base runner of the inning. Jones came to the plate next and extended his five-game hitting streak to six when he laced a ball to left field that landed just next to the scoreboard on the other side of the fence.

When Chatham finished batting in the bottom of the inning, the Anglers fielders originally stayed in the dugout for a few moments before taking the field amidst the fog. Then the game was delayed. And then it was over.

“I feel bad to get a win because of fog, but I can’t control the fog,” Holliday said. “We want to play nine innings, we don’t want to get fogged out, we don’t want darkness.”