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Romero Jr., Martin home runs propel Anglers past Hyannis for 3rd win in 4 games

by Allie Kaylor, 07-17-2021

Romero Jr., Martin home runs propel Anglers past Hyannis for 3rd win in 4 games

HYANNIS — For the first time in three trips to the plate, Maxwell Romero Jr. saw a strike before the count reached 3-0. The second pitch wasn’t perfect, but enough to get a bat on it and send it foul. But the next pitch was his pitch. Following a fourth-inning leadoff walk by Lyle Miller-Green, Romero lifted a ball into right field.

He’d had long hits already this season, some scoring runs, others putting him in position to score later in the inning. But right off the bat, Romero Jr. and everyone else knew it was gone. Hyannis right fielder Dominic Johnson could only turn around and watch as the ball soared over his head, over the McKeon Park scoreboard and over the trees before falling somewhere near Old Colony Road well out of sight.

Romero Jr.’s been a constant in Chatham’s recent string of success, either scoring or driving in a run in five of Chatham’s last six games with seven hits and two doubles in that span. And Sunday, against a 2-16-yet-trending-upward Hyannis team, he put the Anglers on top early, scoring more runs on one swing than the Harbor Hawks did all game. Four hits from the Anglers are far fewer from the double-digits they’d hit in recent games, but they still found ways to get on base and generate runs in a 4-1 win over Hyannis.

“Some guys are in a really good groove with the bat, they’re seeing the ball really well,” Holliday said.

It capped off a road trip where the Anglers won 2-of-3, scoring six runs in the one loss. They now sit within reach of the first-place Brewster Whitecaps before a four-game home stretch in the heart of the season playing games that Chatham manager Tom Holliday called “must win.”

The Harbor Hawks started off scoring for either team when Caleb Pendleton hit a long line drive over the left-field wall, just over the head of recent addition Garrett Martin. It was starter Dylan Carmouche’s first hit allowed of the night, but the damage could’ve been much worse. Johnson led off the inning with a walk, but before the end of the next at bat, Carmouche forced him into a rundown between first and second — with Miller-Green cutting off his path to clear the bases once again.

Chatham’s lead grew when Martin strolled to the plate in the fifth inning for his second at bat of the season and sent a ball into left-center field. He ran toward first, not certain if he’d got enough of it, but when the ball drifted over the fence and landed in the trees, he could relax. The Chatham bench left the dugout, giving high-fives and hugs to their newest teammate making a big impression.

Prior to Martin’s activation, Holliday commented on how he could help bring power — especially against lefties — that the Anglers desperately needed. And in Chatham’s first at bat against the left-handed Austin Wallace, the man that hit 21 home runs for the JUCO Champion McLennan College proved that he could do exactly what he was brought there to do.

“I definitely thought it was a double off the bat, came out of the box running, and I watched it go over,” Martin said.

Matt Garcia hit a double in the next at-bat, one that bounced along the right field line, directly under the glove of Greer at first base, and crossed directly over the base before rolling foul into the right field corner. Garcia landed safely at second for the Anglers’ second-straight extra-base hit. Caeden Trenkle followed by swinging at strike three in the dirt as the ball skirted away from Pendleton, who managed to collect the ball and threw to third to try to get the lead runner. But Garcia slid directly around the tag, and he scored on a fielder’s choice.

The only two hits Wallace gave up came in that first inning of work, and the only other base runner he allowed was an eighth-inning walk to Miller-Green. But more important than hits was the fact that Chatham only struck out six times, Holliday said, the lowest total in a nine-inning game this season. Several outs — including lineouts by Johnny Castagnozzi, Trenkle and Rivera — were hit hard and to the warning track, showing potential for more offensive success.

“Our outs are well hit. I don’t know how many times we struck out today, but I guarantee it was… down from that period we were in the teens every night,” Holliday said.

As the Anglers struggled to hit Wallace, the Harbor Hawks did the same against Cade Winquest, who entered in the fifth after an impressive outing from Carmouche. He struck out the first batter he saw and retired the next four before allowing a single and escaping the inning on a fielder’s choice. He allowed just one baserunner in the sixth and eighth innings and never saw one reach third, mixing in a 95 mile-per-hour fastball with a 76 mile-per-hour curveball to catch hitters off guard and make them swing at pitches they shouldn’t.

The pitching staff was depleted from the draft, with starters Austin Vernon, Adam Tulloch and Kolby Kubichek hearing their names called and closer Adam Scoggins signing with the Dodgers a day later. With significant losses, pitchers like Carmouche and Winquest are making longer outings with a smaller bullpen, leaving little room for error. Eight innings — four each — of one-run ball showed Holliday exactly what he wants to see in the future.

“The draft was weighing on a bunch of guys that were pitching,” Holliday said. “They were good, trying too hard, but good.”

After Chatham went down in order in the top of the ninth, Zach Maxwell entered to close out the game. He’d been shaky in appearances earlier in the month and hadn’t seen the mound since July 10, something Holliday attributed to starters and scheduled relievers pitching well, meaning he didn’t have to go to the bullpen.

Because Maxwell had to wait so long to take the mound, Holliday said it made him more composed and under control. He was less focused on striking guys out, throwing softer than he usually did but still finding ways to make the outs he needed. He allowed one hit — a bloop single — and struck out two with a hard breaking ball. When he induced a groundout to end the game, it was the exact appearance from Maxwell and Chatham win they needed to end the road trip.

“We pitched great, and to win... two out of three on the road, that’s a good road trip, now we go home for four,” Holliday said. “In the next four at home, we gotta get three of them.”