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Anglers crush Gatemen, 10-5, for 2nd-straight win

by Andrew Crane, 07-27-2021

Anglers crush Gatemen, 10-5, for 2nd-straight win

The second-to-last hit Caeden Trenkle had entering Tuesday’s game against Wareham came in the ninth inning on July 16. Chatham trailed Cotuit by two, and Trenkle ripped a ball to the right-field fence with a runner on, and the blast landed just short — a matter of inches — from tying the game. That was the first glimpse of Trenkle’s power, something that every hitting session with assistant coach Mickey Tettleton and successful at-bats turned into a more consistent reality.

Trenkle’s latest glimpse came on an 0-2 swing with no outs in the second inning. Maxwell Romero Jr. and Nolan McLean, the previous two batters, drew walks, and Trenkle drove Christian Ruebeck’s ball over the right-field fence, this time the few inches longer and then some, and trotted around the bases as the Anglers responded to an early two-run burst from the Gatemen to take the lead.

The Chatham center fielder cracked a smile as he rounded the bases, pointing toward the bullpen as he prepared to round third, and lifted his helmet while crossing the plate after his first home run since Oklahoma State’s May 30 game against TCU. It was one of eight hits the Anglers recorded between the second and fourth innings, and three of those — including Trenkle’s — came with two strikes. And with the Anglers’ season reaching the point where it needs wins, and strings of them, that’s exactly what they did, defeating Wareham, 10-5, for their second win in a row and second set of back-to-back wins this season.

“We're getting close, and tonight we looked like a pretty good team,” Chatham manager Tom Holliday said. “That was a pretty good-looking ball club tonight that we put on the field all over the place.”

Trenkle’s blast, and the two singles that followed it that inning, laid the foundation for the middle stretch of innings, where the leadoff batter reached three times via walk and the Anglers had a runner on second with less than two outs every frame between the second and the fifth. In the fourth, after Kenny Levari drew the leadoff walk, Lyle Miller-Green dropped one of his three hits down the first-base line, the ball just landing fair and slicing enough toward the right-field line that it advanced Levari to third and Miller-Green to second.

Danny Serretti, who joined Miller-Green as the two players in Chatham’s order to record three hits, then bounced a single up the middle and off the second baseman’s glove to score the pair of runners. For the first time since July 5, Miller-Green started in the outfield and batted the lowest he ever has in the order: ninth. Sometimes, Holliday said postgame, changing the rhythm a little bit helps awaken dormant results at the plate. Sometimes hitters buried like that will get taken for granted, even if they at one point led the league in hitting categories.

“It's a pretty good lineup when you got your leading RBI guy hitting in the nine hole,” Holliday said.

The way Holliday built his order was to score on the road and score as many runs as possible before Wareham used a left-hander — a season-long struggle for the Anglers — out of the bullpen. They forced the first pitching change in the third inning after Josh Rivera took three consecutive balls to close his plate appearance and drew a walk, but the Gatemen kept turning to right-handers. The 10 runs on 11 hits that followed, Holliday said, showed that “we’re pretty good right now against right-hand pitching.” Results from the other side aren’t always guaranteed.

That run support was enough for the Anglers’ pitching staff, especially after Adam Tulloch settled down after surrendering two early runs and didn’t allow another the rest of the way. Tres Gonzalez opened the game with an 11-pitch at-bat against the left-hander, but Tulloch struck him out on a slider that carried away. With two outs, though, three singles and a hit-by-pitch, all smashed together consecutively, gave the Gatemen an early two-run advantage.

It flipped a scenario that surfaced the last time these two teams met, back on July 19 when the Anglers lost a second game on their pivotal four-game homestand. The Gatemen jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, and Chatham’s offense, then in a major slump, never recovered. They folded after falling behind early, never really threatened with a potential game-tying scenario, and it became another loss on that homestand that sent Chatham’s season spiraling more than it already was, with each loss adding increased importance and sinking a potential playoff appearance further and further out of reach.

But games like Tuesday showcased the exact opposite of those offensive lapses filled with strikeouts, the strides they’ve made throughout the season. Their two-strike hitting is “a lot different,” Holliday said, and that in and of itself is progress. Their two home runs, a defining characteristic of the Chatham offense throughout the season, came from two of the starters without one this summer. “We're slowly starting to get to that point” of becoming a good offensive team, Holliday said, with timely movement with runners on base still a large piece missing.

With two outs in the fifth inning, and David Mendham standing on second base after Wareham’s pitcher botched a pickoff move, Serretti faced a 2-2 pitch from Carter Rustad and lifted it over the right-field fence. It was the deepest ball Serretti has hit this season, and another one with two strikes, and it extended Chatham’s lead to 9-2. He took the fastball down the middle, he said postgame, “hit it pretty good” and watched as it sailed through the night at Spillane Field.

"It's nice to come out and score some runs like that,” Serretti said. “Just all the hard work with Mickey coming to fruition.”

After Serretti crossed the plate, Miller-Green bolted out of the dugout, leapt into the air and greeted his second baseman with a leaping elbow bump. Serretti, like Trenkle, delivered an unexpected home run. That makes it “neat,” Holliday said, and injected the lineup that he thought played a good ball game and manufactured, finally, good approaches at the plate with two strikes.

And at the center were the two with their elbows briefly locked outside the dugout, the consistent top of the lineup and the new bottom, the two carriers of the Anglers’ offense that, with their six swings, lifted Chatham’s season up a little higher.