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CHATHAM — Just as it did Monday night, the infamous Chatham fog struck again.
It loomed at field level from the very first pitch but was not strong enough for the game to be delayed. Chatham and Brewster outfielders handled flyouts with ease during the first five innings.
But, come the sixth, it worsened. The fog thickened — spectators in the grandstand behind home plate could barely make out the outfielders — and with one out in the bottom of the sixth, the umpires gathered and called for a delay.
After 15 minutes, the game was terminated due to fog for the second-straight night. Again, the cancellation came with Chatham Anglers (18-17-2) on the wrong end of a blowout, this time against the Brewster Whitecaps (11-23-3) in a 9-1 loss. The loss marked the third time the A’s have fallen to the Whitecaps at Veterans Field this season.
"We're a broken down ball club,” Anglers manager Tom Holliday said. “We're not playing well in any phase of the game.”
John McMillon (Texas Tech) — who surrendered eight runs and four walks in an inning-plus of work against the Hyannis Harbor Hawks on July 18 — made his second start of the season for Chatham (18-17-2). He improved on his outing at McKeon Park but still struggled. McMillon again had command issues as he walked the leadoff batter in two of three innings Tuesday.
After allowing back-to-back singles to open the game, McMillon struck out the side to escape the jam. The right-hander skipped off the mound, pumping his fist in jubilation as he returned to the dugout. He then faced four batters in the second before running into trouble in the third.
"I think his biggest thing is to stay calm and not do too much,” Colin Simpson (Oklahoma State) said about McMillon. “I think he tries to make perfect pitches. I talked to him before the game to try and get him calm. You saw him do that for a couple innings."
McMillon walked Dominic Canzone (Ohio State) and Cameron Eden (California) to start the inning before Jesse Franklin (Michigan) lifted a two-RBI single inches above the glove of a leaping Michael Busch (North Carolina).
After McMillon then loaded the bases, the A’s made a call to the bullpen and brought in Spencer Van Scoyoc (Arizona State) with one out in the third. Van Scoyoc got Darren Baker (California) to hit a weak groundball back to him, but his throw home was well wide of Simpson, allowing two more runs to score.
“We're doing everything you can possibly do to get yourself beat,” Holliday said. “What do you do about it' We're going to have to do some practicing because we've had some fundamentals drift away.”
In the bottom of the fourth frame, Simpson cracked his sixth double of the season to bring home Tristin English (Georgia Tech) and put the Anglers on the board. It was all Chatham would be able to muster.
While the A’s failed to convert with runners in scoring position all night, the Whitecaps made Chatham pay for its sloppy pitching and defense in the fifth inning.
Brewster worked a walk before Hunter Bishop (Arizona State) and Ray Alejo (Central Florida) legged out bunt singles. English relieved Van Scoyoc after he walked in a run, but it only got worse for the home team from there.
English fanned Wulff for the second out of the inning, bringing up Gage Workman (Arizona State) with the bases juiced. Workman smashed his first homer of the season, a grand slam over the right-field fence.
The round-tripper marked Anglers’ 24th run allowed in their last 10 innings.
"Walks are a big part of it. Locations, too,” Simpson said about Chatham’s recent pitching woes. “It's pretty hard to get guys out when you’re leaving balls down the middle."
Dan Valerio (Southeastern), who was offered a spot by Holliday on Monday and arrived in Chatham on Tuesday, started at second base and batted ninth. The New Jersey native made one plate appearance — a groundout to second — before being replaced by Ben Ramirez (Southern California) in the fourth.
The loss marks the Anglers’ second-straight and keeps them from clinching a playoff spot. With a win over the Harwich Mariners on Wednesday and a Whitecaps loss, Chatham will lock itself into the playoffs.
“I've given the excuse for being tired and trying to save legs,” Holliday said. “That's no longer going to hold up. We've let the game get away from us. Right now, we're not a good ball club.”