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CHATHAM — When Tristin English (Georgia Tech) began the walk out to the Stony Brook Field mound in the bottom of the ninth Friday, the Chatham Anglers supporters on the first base side of the backstop gave the right-hander a massive ovation. English was not coming out out of the bullpen to close the game. He came from the dugout, ready to start his ninth inning of work.
Minutes later, when English was relieved from the ballgame with two outs, the supporters roared with even more jubilation. Even though, English had just allowed a two-run home run to Gage Workman (Arizona State), his outing had put Chatham in excellent position to win Game 2 of the East Division Championship Series.
“For one guy to walk out there and at a time when everybody is talking about ‘tired’ and ‘worn-out’ and ‘ready to go home,’ he wanted that game,” Anglers manager Tom Holliday said. “He wanted to pitch that game. He wanted to start that game. For him to go out and go eight innings, it’s beautiful. It's good script. I wish he could have finished it.”
Kyle Hurt (Southern California) relieved English and struck out Cameron Eden on three pitches as the Anglers (4-0) beat the Brewster Whitecaps (2-2), 3-2, at Stony Brook Field to clinch their spot in the Cape Cod Baseball League Championship Series.
Coming into Game 2 of the series, no Chatham pitcher had thrown seven innings in a single game this summer. English — pitching for the first time in ten days — became the first. Breezing through innings with efficiency, English faced no more than four batters in one inning. He threw 108 pitches on the day, with 81 of them for strikes for a 75 percent strike percentage.
"When I first got here, they said, ‘You gonna go CG’ and I said ‘I always try to come to the ballfield and go CG,’” English said. “You dont ever say it and expect it to actually happen. I was one batter short but what can you do.”
Even though English sent down only two Brewster batters on strikes, he used his pitch arsenal to get his desired result — flyouts. Fourteen of English’s 26 outs were fly balls. Only one Whitecaps hitter — Dominic Canzone (Ohio State) — managed to travel beyond first base before the final frame.
English became the first pitcher to throw at least eight innings in a playoff game since BJ Myers (West Virginia) threw eight frames for the Harwich Mariners against the Anglers on August 6, 2016.
“He keeps the ABC's of pitching in order — first pitch strike, first guy up out,” Holliday said. “When you do that, he makes you relax even though you are getting into the seventh, eighth and ninth inning.”
Chatham needed only five pitches to take the lead. Blake Sabol (Southern California) roped the first pitch of the contest over the head of right fielder Jesse Franklin (Michigan) and reached second base as the ball one-hopped over the fence.
Spencer Torkelson (Arizona State) took three-straight balls before check-swinging a slow grounder to the right side. Second baseman Ike Freeman (North Carolina) was positioned up the middle and glided all the way over, but saw the ball trickle underneath his glove for a base knock. Sabol scored, and Chatham never looked back.
The Anglers continued to put runners on base, but was not able to score again until the fourth inning. A single, walk and hit-by-pitch loaded the bases with no outs. Kyle McCann (Georgia Tech) popped out to third base, but Ben Ramirez drove a flyball to left field that scored John Rave (Illinois State) from third base for the second run of the game.
Rave scored for the second time in the eighth inning, when McCann drove him in with a line-drive single to right field.
English — who is a two-way player at Georgia Tech — is in his first season pitching since having two elbow surgeries during his first two years in Atlanta. He said having the Chatham supporters cheer for him and support him the way they did was a “really cool experience.”
“It was a little emotional going out for the ninth and having everybody stand up,” English said. “Most of them don’t know the whole story, but to me, it meant a lot more to be able to go out there and know that hopefully I’m back.”
The Anglers will play the Wareham Gatemen (4-0) in the CCBL Championship Series. The last time the A’s played in CCBL Championship Series was in 2001 against the Wareham Gatemen. Chatham will hope to capture its first CCBL title since 1998 when they beat the Gatemen three games to two.