« Back Home
ORLEANS — After a 13-run effort, its highest run total of the season, against the Harwich Mariners on Tuesday, the Chatham Anglers’ bats have gone silent.
In two-straight games against the Orleans Firebirds, the A’s have mustered zero runs. In Wednesday’s loss at Veterans Field, the Firebirds’ staff faced 28 Chatham batters — just one above the minimum. On Thursday, the A’s worked five hits and advanced five runners beyond first base, but nobody could provide the finishing touch.
Despite the Anglers’ (9-9-2) improved offensive effort, they fell to the Firebirds (8-12-1), 3-0, on a windy, gloomy night at Eldredge Park in Orleans. The loss marks Chatham’s third loss in its last four games as it falls back to .500.
Austin Bergner (North Carolina) made his first start of the summer after being activated on Wednesday morning. The second-year Chatham player tossed five innings, allowing three runs and six hits.
Bergner — who wore pitching coach Dennis Cook’s No. 27 jersey — worked quickly in the first two frames, taking roughly 10 seconds between each pitch. After receiving the ball from catcher Kyle McCann (Georgia Tech), Bergner leaned down and dipped his fingers in the dirt before readying his windup.
The right-hander tossed an immaculate inning — three strikeouts on nine strikes — in the bottom of the second frame. Bergner used his low-to-mid-90 mile per hour fastball paired with a looping curveball to fan six Firebirds.
“If he’s throwing his offspeed for called strikes, he’s unhittable,” North Carolina pitching coach Robert Woodard said prior to the game.
But in the third, things took a turn. Orleans’ Sal Gozzo (Tulane) launched a solo-shot to break the scoreless deadlock. Pat DeMarco (Vanderbilt) and JJ Bleday (Vanderbilt) followed that with a pair of base hits. Bergner then pelted Logan Wyatt (Louisville) with a pitch before Carter Aldrete (Arizona State) doubled to bring in two more, giving the home team a three-run lead.
“The home run was a changeup to the nine-hole hitter. It looked like it hurt his feelings, it looked like it broke him down,” A’s manager Tom Holliday said about Bergner. “He turned into an entirely different guy. But it was his first time out there. Sometimes when you're a perfectionist, home runs mess you up.”
As the inning progressed, Bergner’s royal blue jersey drooped out of the right side of his pants and his shirt buttons became undone. He abandoned his usual routine, as he started to dip his fingers in the dirt once every few pitches and took longer stints in between hurls. The North Carolina product re-tucked and re-buttoned his top before retiring Justin Lavey (Louisville) to end the inning.
Bergner’s counterpart, Joey Lancellotti (North Carolina), bested his college teammate on the bump. The right-hander tossed five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts and three hits allowed. Shay Smiddy (Louisville) relieved Lancellotti to open the sixth and pitched one inning.
“He's a stud, he's a really good arm. He had fastball command and two really good offspeed pitches,” John Rave (Illinois State) said. “We struggled against him, but you're going to have nights like that. The good thing is we play tomorrow.”
After failing to advance a runner past second base in Wednesday’s loss at Veterans Field, the Anglers had a bevy of chances to tally runs. Despite the A’s lack of hits against Lancellotti and Smiddy, they mustered six baserunners over the first six frames. In the top of the sixth, Ben Ramirez (Southern California) stepped to the plate with runners on second and third but sliced a harmless flyout to left field to end the inning.
"We got behind, and it wasn't going to be easy coming from behind,” Holliday said. “They throw strikes, and they seemed to want a piece of us. And they got us."
In the top of the eighth, a mistake by the Firebirds opened the door for Chatham. Michael Busch (North Carolina) legged out a two-out infield single before Jorge Arenas (Stetson) entered the game as a pinch-runner. Orleans’ catcher Phil Clarke’s (Vanderbilt) pickoff attempt two pitches later sailed into right field as Arenas advanced to second, but Tristin English (Georgia Tech) struck out to negate the rally.
John McMillon (Texas Tech) made his Chatham debut, entering the game in the sixth inning. The right-hander posted two innings of work, allowing one hit and striking out two. Greg Veliz (Miami), the A’s established go-to closer, pitched the bottom of the eighth inning, striking out one.
McCann reached base in the top of the ninth to give the visitors hope, but Jake Taylor (Oklahoma State) struck out to end the game. The Anglers lifted themselves out of the dugout, shook hands with the Firebirds, and stood on the receiving end of Holliday’s most spirited post-game speech of the season.
“No runs in 18 innings. That's enough to make you really think about what you're doing,” Holliday said. “We're way too good to be shutout 18 innings in a row.”