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With a chip on his shoulder, Evans leads Chatham to 3rd straight win

by Chris Blake, 07-20-2022

With a chip on his shoulder, Evans leads Chatham to 3rd straight win

Wyatt Evans has refined his pregame routine on start days since arriving in Chatham. For a 7 p.m. start, Evans begins his mobility and stretching at 5:55 p.m. Next comes his dynamic warmup, which is followed by arm bands and weighted balls. At approximately 6:30, he begins throwing, and by 6:45 he’s on the bullpen mound.

On Tuesday, that process yielded Evans’ longest outing with the Anglers. For 5.1 innings, the southpaw shut out the Whitecaps (13-14-6), helping Chatham to a 3-1 win at Veterans Field. Anglers manager Tom Holliday said the game was “probably one of the top five” overall pitching performances for Chatham this season.

Caden Grice was initially slated to start, with Evans coming out of the bullpen in the “piggyback” role that Holliday has utilized throughout the season. However, Grice had a “kink in his neck,” Holliday said, and Evans moved into the starting role.

“We go from Grice to him, and he came out and pitched with a little chip on his shoulder, and I thought he was outstanding,” Holliday said.

Evans retired the first seven batters he faced, which included a string of four consecutive strikeouts beginning in the top of the second.

The first of three hits Evans allowed didn’t make it out of the infield, and following a walk to Davis Diaz, Evans faced runners on first and second with one out in the top of the third. Evans worked his way out, catching Ryan Lasko looking and whiffing Carson DeMartini for back-to-back strikeouts.

Evans allowed two more base runners in the top of the fifth, walking Diaz on four pitches before Lasko grounded a single up the middle, but DeMartini’s fly out ended the frame.

“That’s my first time throwing a long outing like that since high school, so I definitely feel it,” Evans said. “Definitely felt it in that fifth (inning) and that last out I got in the sixth. But it’s a good thing for me to get out there and get more experience like that and work deeper into games.”

Channing Austin and Carlos Rey combined to finish the game for Chatham. Rey allowed the only hit between the two — a solo home run off the bat of Cameron Fisher in the top of the eighth.

For the third straight game, Guy Garibay Jr. recorded an RBI double. Johnny Castagnozzi led off the bottom of the fifth with a line-drive single to center field, and after he advanced on a wild pitch, Garibay muscled Grant Kipp’s 2-1 offering into left-center. Castagnozzi crossed home as Garibay’s hit bounced to the fence, puting Chatham ahead 3-0.

“As far as (being) a hitter, there’s nothing in the world you want more than to have a man on second … (with) less than two outs,” Garibay said.

The Anglers pushed across runs in three separate innings to back their pitchers. Garibay set the table with a single to right-center to begin the bottom of the first.

“It’s not specifically hunting for a certain pitch, it’s more of a zone thing,” Garibay said. “I’m hitting a pitch that they throw middle-in, middle-in and two strikes. I’m just trying to go the other way, put the ball in play. That’s what you gotta do in this league, especially to be more consistent.”

Jake DeLeo and Roc Riggio followed suit, DeLeo reaching on a bunt down the third base line and Riggio lofting a single into shallow left field. With no outs and the bases loaded, Whitecaps starter Carson Liggett found a partial escape. Marcus Brown poked a ground ball to Diaz at shortstop, who fired to second baseman Kevin Keister to start a double play. Still, Chatham gained an early lead as Garibay scored from third.

Two innings later, Brown pulled a line drive past a diving David Mendham at first base. Riggio sprinted around the bases, scoring from first as Brown’s hit charged toward the right field corner. Brown fist-bumped third base coach Randy Whisler after sliding into third with a triple.

For the first time this season, the Anglers have won three consecutive games. With Harwich’s tie Tuesday, Chatham (9-17-7) moved within three points of the Mariners for fourth in the East Division and a playoff spot.

“We’re really loose,” Garibay said. “We’ve been loose the whole summer, but as far as the hitting and pitching goes, it’s been really good lately.”