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Relive the top 5 games of Chatham’s 2021 season

by Allie Kaylor and Andrew Crane, 08-05-2021

Relive the top 5 games of Chatham’s 2021 season

The Chatham Anglers had a season defined by hot streaks followed by cold streaks followed by hot streaks, with stretches of games where the offense would have double-digit hits and others where it’d barely escape a shutout.

From Game 1 to Game 38, the Anglers’ lineup turned over multiple times. They brought in dozens of players, patching together a lineup that featured a few day-one starters, a handful of replacements and occasional players who’d just recovered from injuries. Chatham manager Tom Holliday said that the Anglers, who won six of their final eight games to end the season, would’ve had a chance at a long playoff run had the season been just a little longer.

1. Maxwell Romero Jr.’s 3 homers spark Chatham’s season-best output in 12-3 win over Cotuit

The Anglers had scored 12 total runs on 13 hits, both season-highs, to conclude the season series with the Kettleers, six of those runs came off the bat of Vanderbilt catcher Maxwell Romero Jr. His three home runs tied a Cape Cod Baseball League record, something that'd only been done 10 times before, and he’s the first Angler to reach the mark since Bob Larimer in 1983.

“It was just so much fun,” Matt Hogan said. “Romero had one of the best performances I’ve ever seen in a baseball game.”

Romero hit a three-run blast in the first inning to put the Anglers up early against Cotuit, who’d beat them twice already that season. Then in the second inning, the Anglers scored four runs on five straight hits. After a groundout, Romero hit his second home run, this one scoring two runs to make it 9-2 through two innings.

His third home run came in the fourth inning with Hogan, his Vanderbilt teammate, standing on third base. Romero watched a strike fly by before launching the ball to deep right-center, putting the Anglers up 11-0. At least one person got on base in seven of the eight innings, and the 12 runs and 13 hits were at the time a season high. Even when Romero struck out on a 63-mph curveball to end the bottom of the eighth, the Veterans Field crowd gave him a round of applause.

“It’s definitely a blessing to be able to do something like that, something crazy,” Romero Jr. said.

2. Chatham scores season-high 8 runs, wins back-to-back games for 1st time this year

Johnny Castagnozzi’s first strikeout consisted of three swings and misses scattered with two pitches several feet outside the zone. His second was a rally-ending looking strikeout on a call he disagreed with. His third was the final out of a three-up, three-down inning. Stepping to the plate in the seventh inning, he was determined to not let it be his fourth.

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He took three straight pitches and got ahead 3-0. From the on-deck circle, Matt Hogan shouted words of encouragement — “You know what he’s giving you.” And on the next pitch, Castagnozzi swung. He’d swung and missed eight times in the game, but he wasn’t going to miss the ninth, a fastball down the middle and low in the zone. The ball propelled off his bat, perfectly barreled and targeting the grass on the other side of the centerfield fence.

“I was really hoping he’d give me the swing there,” Castagnozzi said. “I was looking for something over the plate I could hit hard. He gave me one, and I put a good swing on it.”

Yarmouth-Dennis made a pitching change, but Eric Yost gave Hogan the same pitch that Zach Franklin gave Castagnozzi. A fastball down the middle ended in deep right field, just a few feet further than in Orleans when he nearly launched a broken-bat home run in his first Anglers at bat. It was the first time the Anglers had hit back-to-back home runs this season, and the three-run inning put the Anglers up 8-4 in the seventh, all but sealing their first back-to-back wins of the season.

“I’ve been in this ballpark and get beat late because of the darkness,” Holliday said. “I’m playing for one, and when a guy hits a two-run dinger after that, it makes everybody feel good.”

3. Chatham pitchers throw 1-hit gem as bats stay silent in 4-0 win over Hyannis

Daniel Federman became just the second Anglers pitcher to pitch more than three innings when he pitched 3.2 scoreless and the pitching staff completely shut down the Harbor Hawks, allowing one hit and striking out 11 in the 4-0 win. Federman, Garrett Crowley and Victor Mederos improved on their first performance where they, along with reliever David Falco, allowed seven runs to the Commodores in a season-opening tie.

“I was just trying to stay away from hitters, get ahead, throw as many strikes as possible and kill them with my slider,” Crowley said. “Everything was working today.”

Federman started the game out strong, getting two-strike counts against and then retiring the first two batters before allowing a double to Jake Cunningham, the lone hit in the game and only baserunner allowed by Federman. A two-strikeout second inning followed, with Federman experimenting with his four-pitch mix and newly acquired curveball.

To start the fourth, the inning Crowley would usually enter the game, two straight right handed batters came to the plate. That’s why Holliday left Federman in — play matchups, and let Crowley face the three left handed batters in the four, five and six spots in the order. He retired the first two batters out with ease, setting Crowley up to record the final out of the inning, a four-pitch strikeout.

“You like to think three innings is about 50 pitches,” Holliday said. “(Federman) was only 38 pitches (through three). So why not let him just go and play the percentage, and we did, and we literally stayed out of our bullpen.”

When Crowley returned to the mound in the fifth, he stared down every batter, nodded at the sign from Kevin Parada and proceeded to throw nine strikes and no balls and induce just four swings — a leadoff groundout, a swinging strike and two foul balls.

Crowley made his pitches impossible to hit. A slider would appear high before falling into the zone at the last second. It would seem right down the middle before breaking inside — causing several batters to swing at pitches that nearly hit them. In total, Crowley threw 19 balls that Hyannis batters didn’t swing at. Just seven were outside the zone.

4. 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.”

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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.

“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.”

5.Every starter reaches base in Chatham’s 14-hit, 11-6 win over Brewster

The Anglers still had one game scheduled after their 38th game of the season against Brewster, but their 11-6 win felt final. The forecast had rain scheduled all day Wednesday, and the likelihood of facing Harwich in the season finale was shrinking and shrinking. Before the game, the team held player awards, a ceremony usually held on the final day of the season, and players and coaches acted like it was their final time in an Anglers uniform.

But up to that point, the Anglers made strides to reach a point where they can leave “feeling good about themselves,” Chatham manager Tom Holliday said. Where, even if they couldn’t reach .500, they became one of the CCBL’s hottest teams down the stretch, working with a “patchwork” lineup that features just a trio of players who appeared in the season-opener.

And perhaps the biggest stride came when Chatham knocked out Brewster’s two left-handed pitchers to open the game. It’d been a season-long struggle for the Anglers, failing to generate hits, or any hit, against pitchers throwing from that side of the rubber. That’s why the Whitecaps started a lefty every time they faced the Anglers. The strategy had worked, generating wins in three of five games, and on Tuesday Brewster turned to it again.

Lyle Miller-Green led off the second inning with a single up the middle, staying down on a breaking ball and slapping it over the second baseman’s head. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, and came around to score when third-base coach Randy Whisler waved him around following Maxwell Romero Jr.’s RBI single.

Then the Anglers exploded for four runs, the deepest blast coming via Garrett Martin’s double, and everything that followed could be traced back to Hogan’s blooped single to right that opened the inning. Burke caught him leaning and picked him off at first, but a balk nullified the call and placed Hogan on second, a spot he scored from on Rivera’s RBI single after advancing to third on a sacrifice fly.

“There were some times early in the season where we had runners that didn't even advance on fly balls,” Holliday said. “Now, we took advantage of every opportunity they gave us.” Two deep blasts, two of the deepest at Veterans Field this season, closed out the game where Chatham scored the third-most runs it has all season. The first came from Serretti, who sent a home run into the trees behind the center-field fence. The second came when Lyle Miller-Green hit it a few feet further, into a different set of trees, mirroring destinations of batting practice hits throughout the season.

"Just knowing that might be my final at-bat here ... that was pretty cool,” Miller-Green said.