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Anglers lose in 9th despite 9-hit night at the plate

by Andrew Crane, 07-25-2021

Anglers lose in 9th despite 9-hit night at the plate

FALMOUTH — The first shouts came from the dugout, then from the scattered stands at Guv Fuller Field, and all those heads turned and stared as the ball off Kristopher Armstrong’s bat soared down the right-field line. It was the bottom of the ninth, with Chatham pitcher David Falco working a 2-2 count, and his next pitch ended up flying over the head of Matt Hogan, over the outfield fence, and that’s when the Commodores spilled out of the dugout for good.

Armstrong flipped his helmet off to the side in between third and home and flopped into a pile of teammates at the plate. Falmouth teammates dumped two Powerade containers filled with water on his head, ice scattering across the batter’s box where he stood moments prior, as Chatham players returned back to their dugout.

Compared to other games, nine hits from the Chatham offensive trended closer to the outliers than the normal. They struggled when runners advanced into scoring position, but for the first five innings, Chatham did enough to continually exchange runs with the Commodores until the bullpens took over and the game settled. And that’s where everything stayed, tied 4-4, until Armstrong’s blast won it in the ninth, sending the Anglers to their sixth loss in seven games.

“We gotta score earlier on in that game.” Hogan said. “There were a lot of innings where we just didn't get the job done.”

In the story of Chatham’s season, a lack of execution with runners in scoring position has been one of the main chapters. Against the Commodores on Tuesday, they twice led off innings with a double, but neither time advanced the runner past that. Back at Guv Fuller Field one month prior, though, when the Cape Cod Baseball League returned for the first time since 2019, Chatham opened its year with seven runs, 11 hits and a mix of power and timely hitting — a home run by Lyle Miller-Green and a game-tying RBI single by Kevin Parada — to tie with the Commodores to begin the season.

Its lineup has changed significantly since that game, a season-long shuffle in search of an order that works and results in wins, and only two players from that first starting lineup — Jake DeLeo and Lyle Miller-Green — were in it for the third meeting with the Commodores as well.

Falmouth opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning, when Sebastian Keane allowed a leadoff single to Koldie Kolden, a .150 hitter, who was out at second on a fielder’s choice by Casey Hartford. Hartford scored when Taylor Smith ripped a double down the left-field line, while also putting runners on second and third for the Commodores.

They added another run off Keane, who scattered four hits and a walk in his three innings of work, but in between those runs, Matt Hogan, Chatham’s leading hitter, gave the Anglers the lead. Danny Serretti opened the inning by flashing a bunt and then one-hopping a double to the right-field wall, and Hogan — after fouling off back-to-back pitches and remembering the 1-0 changeup Mason Pelio threw him in his first at-bat — ripped a 2-2 pitch over the same side of the fence.

“Sat on it and it ended up being right there,” Hogan said. “So I got it.”

Falmouth right-fielder Jace Borohfen took two steps back, glanced at the ball sailing through the air and then watched it settle on the other side of the fence. Serretti and Hogan ensured that the Anglers had runners on base in each of their first three innings, a streak that Garrett Martin extended when he bounced a single through the 5-6 hole with one out in the fourth inning.

He traded places on the basepath with Jake DeLeo after a fielder’s choice, who stole second and took his lead off the base with Miller-Green digging into the batter’s box. For the past two weeks, since a July 11 home run against Bourne, he hadn’t recorded an extra-base hit, starting to drop in the Chatham order and settling in the No. 8 spot on Sunday. But he blasted a pitch to deep center field, bouncing to the fence as he slid into second and pointed toward the Anglers’ dugout.

And as most teams have done against Chatham, the Commodores recognized a season-long problem and tried to capitalize on it. Manager Tom Holliday’s lineup had five straight left-handed hitters positioned at the top of his lineup, with Serretti, a switch hitter, at the top. and the Commodores tried to counter by inserting a left-handed reliever, a move that’d succeeded against the Anglers, and resulted in strikeout after strikeout, through their first three-quarters of their season.

“You may as well just cash it in when a left-hander shows up against us,” Holliday said.

But Serretti led off with a double, his second of the night to give him one from each side of the plate, and advanced to third when Falmouth’s lefty — Jackson Phipps — threw a pitch that squeaked past the catcher’s mitt and toward the backstop. And in the same at-bat, with Chatham trailing 4-3 and needed to respond to a pair of runs the Commodores scored the previous inning to retake the lead, Maxwell Romero Jr.’s swing met a hanging breaking ball that he laced into centerfield, locking the game before it flipped into its second half.

Then the lefty struggles kicked in, and Phipps didn’t allow a hit across his final two innings. Lucas Gordon took over and struck out all six batters he faced in two innings, where he picked up the win. Chatham’s last chance to break the deadlock started in the eighth when Kenny Levari belted a ball to deep right field, bringing Bohrfren back to the fence, again, although this time he nearly caught it before Levari’s hit dropped and bounced to the side. But the Anglers’ seventh runner in scoring position stayed there, as the next three batters struck out and then it stayed that way until the Commodores won it in the ninth.

“We continue to fail to grow up and be the guy to step up and try to win a game,” Holliday said.