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Chatham Rallies in Ninth to Defeat Hyannis 4-3

by George Barclay, 06-17-2012

Chatham Rallies in Ninth to Defeat Hyannis 4-3 Sometimes all it takes is one good swing of the bat. On a frigid Sunday night, the Chatham Anglers (3-1) rallied from a 3-1 deficit to top the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (0-4) 4-3. In a game that featured stellar pitching from both sides, the Anglers were able to regroup in the top of the ninth inning and escape with a magnificent comeback win. In addition to the victory, Chatham is now tied with Orleans atop the Cape League's Eastern Division.

"We held our own and came back after only giving up three runs," said manager John Schiffner. "We're really proud of our guys."

Southpaw Brian McIlhenny (1-0) (Pepperdine) was the winning pitcher for Chatham. McIlhenny threw one scoreless inning of relief in in the eighth for the Anglers and gave up no walks or hits. Right-hander Ryan Thompson (0-0) (Franklin Pierce) was given a no-decision for Chatham. Thompson threw five shutout innings for the Anglers, allowed just four hits and struck out five batters.

31 Game 4 @ Hyannis
Ryan Thompson (Franklin Pierce) during his first start of the season.

Box Score

Game 4: Chatham 4, Hyannis 3

Lefty Jimmy Hodgskin (0-1) (Troy) suffered the loss for Hyannis. In just one inning of work. Hodgskin was lit up for three runs on two hits and fanned two. Right-hander David Garner (0-0) (Michigan State) received a no-decision. Garner allowed no earned runs on four hits in four and a third innings, struck out six and walked two.

While the last five runs of the game were scored in the final three innings of play, the early part of Sunday's game was a pitchers' duel between Thompson and Garner, both of whom had all of their pitches working. The Anglers were able to take a 1-0 lead in the top of the second inning when second basemen Dante Flores (Southern California) scored on a passed ball. Until the bottom of the seventh inning, Flores' heads-up baserunning was the only real offense all night for either team.

However, Chatham's fate changed dramatically in the bottom of the seventh. Right-hander Dace Kime (Louisville) struggled to find consistency with his pitches throughout the inning and gave up a walk and a single. Kime was then hindered by his defense when shortstop Mike Fransoso (Maine) committed a throwing error, allowing the first runner to score. The next batter, centerfielder Zac Zellers (Kentucky) smoked a single into left field, scoring two more runs for Hyannis, making the score 3-1.

Yet, all hope was not lost for Chatham. Down to their final out in the top of the ninth, the Anglers began to rally when catcher John Martinez (Michigan State) hit an infield single. In the next at-bat, Fransoso avenged his miscue in the field and drew a walk. With runners on first and second, Chatham's prayers to the baseball gods were answered when designated hitter Chad Pinder (Virginia Tech) muscled a three-run home run just inside the right field foul pole. Keeping his hands inside the baseball, Pinder was able to shoot a mid-90s fastball to the opposite field, a tremendous display of power.

"It was a fantastic hit," said Schiffner about Pinder's home run. "The guy on the mound was throwing about 94 miles an hour and Chad kept his hands in and drilled the ball to the opposite field for a home run. Our hitting coach Pat McGee's excited, I'm excited, Chad's excited and all of Virginia Tech is excited."

A well-disciplined hitter, Pinder has been playing close attention during assistant coach Pat McGee's batting practice sessions.

"Each day I try to work on something new. I try to pick one thing to focus on and I pursue it. Coach McGee's been talking about staying inside the baseball and that's what I focused on today," said Pinder.

Despite Pinder's late-game heroics, Schiffner was also extremely complimentary of both Martinez and Fransoso's ability to get on base and ignite his team's rally, Fransoso in particular due to his throwing error just two innings beforehand.

"That's a baseball player right there," he said about Fransoso. "He forgot about what he did in the field and flushed it down the toilet. Then, he went up to hit and had a great at-bat. Some guys would have pouted, some guys would have struck out and thrown their bats or helmets, but Mike went up there and drew a walk."

After struggling at the plate in the first couple of games, Fransoso had his best at-bats of the season on Sunday night, going 1 for 2 with a single and drawing three walks. The middle infielder's keen eye has made him a valuable asset for the Anglers in the leadoff spot.

Following Pinder's home run, the designated hitter was aided by college teammate Jake Joyce (Virginia Tech), who pitched a scoreless ninth for Chatham. The closer had every one of his pitches working in the final inning and struck out two of the three batters he faced, earning his second save on the season.

"Jake came in and shut the door for us," said Schiffner.

Now having won two games in a row, the Anglers will return home to Veterans Field on Monday, June 19 to take on the Brewster Whitecaps at 7 p.m. For live coverage of Monday's game, tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame show with broadcasters Brandon Liebhaber and Chris Fitzgerald at 6:40 p.m. at TRZ Teamline.

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