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Chatham drops stunner after 9th-inning fiasco

by Chris Blake, 07-15-2022

Chatham drops stunner after 9th-inning fiasco

Chatham manager Tom Holliday has been ejected for the first time this season.

With the Anglers clinging to a 2-0 lead and runners on first and second in the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Rey skipped a pitch in front of catcher Hayden Travinski, sending it to the backstop.

With runners now on second and third, Rey switched from pitching out of the stretch to the windup. In his typical fashion, the left-hander swung his front leg to begin his motion. He fired ball four into Travinski’s mitt — or so it appeared. Instead, first base umpire Jason Klump called timeout, conferred with home plate umpire Pat Burns and ruled a balk, sending a run home and advancing the runner on second base to third.

Holliday stormed onto the field within seconds of the call, bypassing Burns and going directly to Klump. Leaving no doubt about his objection, Holliday was thrown out of the game.

“(The umpire) said that (Rey) had to designate himself throwing out of the windup with a runner on third,” Chatham pitching coach Jay Powell said. “I’ve never heard of it. I’m not saying it’s not a rule, but I’ve never heard of it. He said it’s new in NCAA, so we’ll check and make sure, but no, I’ve never heard of it.”

Lebarron Johnson Jr. entered the game after Rey issued his second walk in as many batters. On Johnson’s first pitch, Carson Jones — who represented the winning run — stole second base. With just one out, the Anglers’ odds of escaping Doran Park with a win were plummeting with each play.

John Peck’s at-bat brought more controversy. On an 0-2 count, Johnson delivered a fastball on the edge of the zone that was called a ball, provoking the Chatham fans in attendance and drawing a subtle reaction from Travinski.

Travinski’s next reaction was not as covert. Peck swung and missed at the ensuing pitch, which then ricocheted off Travinski’s gear and went flying toward the first base dugout. Peck reached safely on the dropped third strike, but more importantly, Tomas Frick scored from third to tie the game.

Travinski turned toward Burns, making his case that the dropped third strike was not what it appeared. Burns and Klump once again came together to discuss a call, and once again they upheld their initial decision.

“Considering the fact that it went from almost in my glove to off my leg and then almost in the dugout, I was a bit confused,” Travinski said.

After the Anglers loaded the bases with an intentional walk, Mac Horvath stepped into the box. All the Braves needed was one run, but Horvath clubbed the first pitch he saw over the left field fence for a walk-off grand slam. After Chatham’s lead had been slowly drawn from the palm of its hand, Horvath’s shot was the most decisive and instantaneous end possible.

The chaos of the final inning in Chatham’s 6-2 loss to Bourne (13-10-6) on Thursday spoiled dominant performances from Roman Kimball and Owen Stevenson. In his second appearance and first start with the Anglers (6-16-7), Kimball did not allow a hit in four innings.

The right-hander found success despite learning 45 minutes before the game that he was starting rather than coming out of the bullpen.

“I was kind of in my routine, but when I’m starting I’m more regimented,” Kimball said. … “So I kinda sped up my stretching a little bit and then got to throwing and then came in and the results were pretty good. So I was pretty happy with how things panned out.”

Kimball walked Bryce Eblin to begin his outing but then retired the next 12 batters in order, beginning the run with four consecutive strikeouts on fastballs.

“He’s got electric stuff,” Powell said. “He’s a back-end-of-the-bullpen, major league-quality guy — he really is. He’s got a really high spin rate fastball that really jumps.”

For four innings, Kimball charged up, bending his back leg before exploding toward the plate. At 5 feet, 11 inches tall, he stalked around the mound between batters.

“I’m normally a high-intensity guy,” Kimball said. “Out there I’m pretty vocal with myself, like if I make a mistake I get pretty mad at myself. But if I make a good pitch then I get excited. … If I can be successful and use the emotions and the surroundings around me, I feel like I’m a beast out there.”

After 56 pitches, Kimball gave way to Stevenson in the bottom of the fifth. In his Anglers debut, Stevenson was tasked with following Kimball’s gem, and he did so spectacularly. The change was seamless as Stevenson blew a fastball by Jones for his first out.

Stevenson allowed three hits over 4.1 innings. In the bottom of the ninth, he exited with one out and a runner on first, who eventually came around as one of six runners to score in the frame.