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Chatham's offense stalls, can't back pitching in loss to Brewster

by Chris Blake, 06-18-2022

Chatham's offense stalls, can't back pitching in loss to Brewster

Ryan Lasko’s stolen base in the bottom of the eighth inning was his third of the game. More importantly, it put him 90 feet away from breaking a 1-1 tie. The next at-bat, Lasko trotted home as Brennan Milone poked a line-drive to right field, putting Brewster ahead 2-1 with few chances left for Chatham.

The Anglers failed to turn around their sluggish day at the plate in the ninth inning, going scoreless once again to seal a 2-1 loss to the Whitecaps on Saturday.

Chatham trailed 1-0 through three innings despite starter Chris Villaman having not given up a hit. The southpaw was his own worst enemy; he walked five batters in four innings of one-run ball.

Villaman began his outing with a four-pitch walk to Lasko — a mistake that cost him instantly. Lasko showed no fear of the left-handed pickoff move, stealing second and third during the next at-bat. After Villaman issued another walk, Lasko scored on a groundout to third baseman Aidan Meola.

With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Michael Sirota ripped a sharp ground ball past a diving Meola at third base for Brewster’s first hit. Sirota’s single was the only hit Villaman surrendered, as he kept the Whitecaps off balance to make up for his lapses in command.

While Villaman was effective, his counterpart was dominant. Similar to Villaman, Brewster starter Joe Mancini kept hitters guessing, but he did so without handing out as many free passes. Mancini faced 17 batters — two more than the minimum — in his five innings of work. He allowed two hits, walked one and struck out seven.

“It was fun,” Mancini said. “I definitely, probably had the most feel for my fastball, and early on that’s kinda all I was throwing. And then once my curveball came around it was the curveball and the fastball.”

Chatham and Brewster combined for nine hits. The Anglers contributed five to the total, but their hits off Mancini failed to materialize into anything resembling a threat. Cooper Ingle had Chatham’s best contact of the day when he laced a single down the left field line in the first inning. Caden Grice followed with a strikeout to end the frame. In the top of the third, Jake DeLeo singled on a sharp ground ball to left field, but Roc Riggio grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Anglers’ offense remained stagnant but recorded its only run after Mancini exited. Facing John West, Grice lofted a single into shallow right field to begin the top of the seventh. The seemingly-routine hit turned worse for the Whitecaps when Sirota misplayed the ball, allowing Grice to reach second on the error.

After Grice’s hit, Brewster helped Chatham again when West walked Marcus Brown and threw a wild pitch, putting runners at the corners with no outs. Chatham scored its first run with Dominic Tamez’s sacrifice fly to center field before another double play ended the frame.

Chatham put its leadoff hitter on base in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings, but — aside from the seventh inning — squandered its opportunities. Brown’s leadoff walk in the fifth preceded a flyout, strikeout and pop out. DeLeo’s second hit started the sixth inning, but Riggio’s second ground ball that resulted in a double play erased it.

Tied at 1-1 in the top of the eighth, Guy Garibay Jr. drew a leadoff walk against Paul Gervase. DeLeo followed and was tasked with executing a sacrifice bunt. Instead, he sent the bunt flying into the air and into first baseman Parks Harber’s glove. Two more fly outs let Gervase off the hook.

“To win games in this league, you have to be able to pitch, you have to be able to bunt, you have to be able to play those games,” Chatham manager Tom Holliday said. “Otherwise, you either beat somebody up or you get beat.”

The Anglers’ hopes of a win or tie were quickly dashed by Lasko in the eighth inning. The center fielder singled off Joe Miller to lead off the inning and made his way around the bases — moving to second on a wild pitch before stealing third and finishing Chatham with the help of his teammate.

“I think we have a bunch of good players, so we just gotta pull it together quick — a little bit quicker than what we’re doing,” Holliday said.