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Anglers lose 8-4 to Harwich for 5th straight loss against Mariners

by Andrew Crane, 07-30-2021

Anglers lose 8-4 to Harwich for 5th straight loss against Mariners

HARWICH — Nolan McLean shuffled his foot back toward the bag, catching the throw from pitcher Dylan Carmouche and stretching to try and record a force out at third base. Chatham needed that out; Harwich had placed runners on first and second with no outs in the sixth inning, channeling the swing of holding the Anglers scoreless after a bases-loaded, no-outs situation and transferring it into their next round of at-bats. Then the Mariners called for the sacrifice bunt, and Carmouche tossed the ball diagonally to McLean, but the Oklahoma State infielder’s foot was just off, missing the out.

Everything that inning started when right fielder Jordan Beck bounced a ball up the middle to open the inning, reaching base when Danny Serretti tried to throw across his body but instead drew the Chatham first baseman off the bag. After that, Carmouche walked a batter. Then the mishandled bunt attempt came.

“When you don’t get an out at all, it kills you,” Chatham manager Tom Holliday said. “It’s a backbreaker.”

And finally the Mariners converted in a spot — the bases-loaded, no-outs spot — that Chatham couldn’t. Pres Cavenaugh lined a singled into right field, scoring one run, and a second Harwich base runner scored after the relay throw bounced past new Anglers catcher David Mendham. Two more Harwich runs scored before Carmouche escaped the inning, too.

The four previous losses against Harwich throughout the season, most involving a combination of early blown Chatham leads or Brock Wilken-led offensive performances the silent Angler bats couldn’t erase, inched their season toward the brink of exclusion from playoff contention. A fifth one eliminated them. Chatham continued its recent offensive surge and recorded six hits and four runs in the opening three innings, but seven unanswered runs by the Mariners to close the game defeated them, 8-4.

“When they caught up with us, it became a little different ballgame and we didn't respond well,” Chatham manager Tom Holliday said.

When Harwich pitcher Dalton Smith recorded a final out, it marked a second consecutive Chatham season where playoff hopes, or the hope to go further, were extinguished at Whitehouse Field. The Mariners won Game 2 of the East Division Series, shortened the Anglers 2019 season and extended their finish of eight losses in nine games — a stark difference to the early-season burst that they carried to the division title.

This season, though, Chatham took the opposite approach. As the season stretched on, its lead on a division title was never threatened. Its grasp on a playoff spot never was either. The Anglers didn’t win back-to-back games until No. 20 and 21, the latest it's happened since 2001. They flirted with a league-low batting average as the season flipped into its second half. Their strikeout total reached double-digits consistently, peaking at 19, and served as a constant throb in a season filled with plenty of wounds.

But Chatham’s latest stretch of three consecutive wins and consistent flashes of double-digit run and hit totals placed itself in a spot where — with help — it could prevent that ending, that anti-climatic crawl to the end of the Cape League season, or at least delay it another day. That continued on the first pitch of the game on Friday, when Serretti boomed a double to left-center field, and Josh Rivera singled him home for the game’s first run less than five pitches in.

Their offense then turned methodical, from over-reliant on the long ball to not necessarily needing one, and strung enough baserunners together to add three more runs in the next two innings. In the second, Jake DeLeo reached on an infield single, advanced to third on two wild pitches and scored when Wilken’s fielder’s choice throw on Serretti’s grounder bounced off a Harwich glove and into right field.

DeLeo struck again the next inning, though he was thrown out trying to extend the hit to end the inning, and paired with Maxwell Romero Jr. to line back-to-back singles. The Anglers recorded six hits through the first three innings, but managed just three the rest of the night. They left nine runners on base in their final four at-bats, including two more in scoring position when Hogan struck out looking to end the game.

Harwich started its comeback in the fourth, when Chris Newell snuck a two-run home run inside the foul pole and brought the game within one. Throughout the first three innings, the Mariners had made contact — some soft, some hard — against Cade Winquest’s pitches but never discovered the big hits, at least until the game flipped to the middle innings and Harwich’s leadoff double was followed by Newell’s homer two batters later. Then, it tied the game on an RBI single into left field where Garrett Martin’s throw home was too high and dragged Tamez back from the plate.

“They had big-time hits,” Rivera said.

After Hogan singled to give the Anglers their third baserunner in the sixth, Caeden Trenkle strolled to the plate to pinch-hit for catcher Dominic Tamez and flew out to left field, though not deep enough for Romero Jr. to tag. Rivera then ripped a ball to the same spot in left field, this one traveling a line as opposed to a high arc, but that was caught too, and that’s when the game flipped.

To avoid losing the DH, something the Anglers couldn’t afford because they didn’t have the deep bullpen to keep pinch-hitting for pitchers after Orleans mounted a ninth-inning comeback before the off-day, Mendham entered for Trenkle to catch. By the time Chatham recorded its first out, three runs had already scored.

“It seems like every game we'll make one defensive mistake, and sometimes we play around it,” Holliday said. “But sometimes we don't.”

For the first three-quarters of Chatham’s season, as the losses added up, the question became at what point would the Anglers find themselves mathematically eliminated from the playoff. Then, in a late-season burst of life, it became how far they could extend it. They had a chance to push the looming playoffs question back to at least Saturday, when Orleans came to Veterans Field, over the final three innings and proceeded to put six runners on base.

Miller-Green fouled a 1-2 pitch off in the seventh and his bat flew down the third-base line, prompting Romero Jr. to carry a glob of pine tar to the plate as his Chatham teammate walked to retrieve his bat. He ripped the next pitch up the middle to give the Anglers a two-out baserunner, then Romero joined him and their threat climaxed when DeLeo lined a ball toward the second baseman before he completed the 4-3 putout.

The Mariners had already extinguished that new life that only a season-long win streak can create, and did so again that with one final big inning, with one final comeback against Chatham, with one final push to secure the second playoff spot in the East.