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Chatham's coaching staff had a specific game plan in mind heading into its contest against Harwich on Monday.
Prior to the game between the two East Division teams, Anglers pitching coach Dennis Cook explained that Chatham wanted to throw lefty Cy Nielson first, so in the event that Harwich countered with a right-handed-heavy lineup, the Anglers were prepared to answer with right-handers out of the bullpen.
Although the Mariners opted for a balanced lineup comprised of five righties and four lefties, Chatham's combination of pitchers worked to perfection. The Anglers' bullpen was suffocating, holding Harwich scoreless over the final five innings to propel Chatham to a 5-2 win at Veterans Field.
Harwich struck with its first chance against Nielson. Nick Goodwin led off the top of the first with a single to center field. Gino Groover moved Goodwin to second on a groundout before Joe Vetrano brought him home on a single to right field.
After being shut out in its season-opening loss, Chatham's offense came alive against Harwich. The Anglers broke through with a three-run third inning against Mariners starter German Fajardo.
Dominic Tamez set the inning in motion with a leadoff walk. Cooper Ingle moved Tamez to third with a sharp single past the diving first baseman. Matt Hogan then drew a full-count walk to load the bases.
The energy shifted back in the Mariners' favor as Fajardo got Noah Ledford to pop out in foul territory. The tension among the home crowd grew as Caden Grice went down on strikes for the second out.
On the verge of squandering a golden opportunity, Guy Garibay Jr. was the Anglers' last hope. The lefty fell behind 0-2 but worked the count, passing on two balls before fouling off three consecutive pitches. On the eighth pitch of the at-bat, Fajardo hit Garibay Jr., bringing in a run.
After Joe Savino entered for Fajardo, Marcus Brown scorched a line-drive single up the middle, bringing in two more runs and giving Chatham a 3-1 lead.
'It was a long at-bat,' Brown said. 'Really, just kept throwing me fastballs in, change-ups, and I was just trying to stay middle and not be so early on that change-up and finally got a fastball elevated and hit it pretty well.'
With Chatham ahead in the top of the fourth, Tommy Seidl added the Mariners' second run off Nielson with a solo shot to right-center field.
Nielson hit the next batter following Seidl's home run, prompting Chatham manager Tom Holliday to make his move. Holliday called upon right-hander Magnus Ellerts with one out and a runner on first. After walking the first batter he faced, Ellerts ended the frame with back-to-back strikeouts.
'At first when I came in I was a little bit antsy,' Ellerts said. 'I felt my mechanics were rushed and I took the time to just settle down after that first walk and locate the fastball and then tunnel the slider off of it, and that just worked throughout the whole game.'
Ellerts retired the side in order in the fifth, collecting two swinging strikeouts along the way. After Ellerts struck out the first batter he faced in the sixth inning, Seidl singled, bringing the reliever's dominance to a temporary halt.
It was all for naught, as Brown and Thomas Caufield turned a 4-6-3 double play on the next at-bat to end the frame.
Before joining the Anglers, Ellerts served as a starter for Florida SouthWestern State.
'Coming out of the bullpen was a little different,' Ellerts said. 'My routine was changed a little bit, but it didn't really affect much.'
In his final inning of work, Ellerts picked up his sixth and seventh strikeouts, along with a groundout, to record another 1-2-3 inning. In total, Ellerts allowed one hit and walked one over 3 ' shutout innings.
The Anglers backed their bullpen's stellar work with insurance runs. Leading 3-2 in the bottom of the fifth, Chatham again loaded the bases. With two outs, a balk from Harwich reliever Drew Conover scored Grice.
In the eighth inning, Brown drew a leadoff walk and crossed home on Tamez's double, pushing the score to 5-2 Chatham.
Joe Miller finished the game for the Anglers with two perfect innings, a fitting end to Chatham's first victory of the season.
'That's the exactly what we had written on paper, and the guys did a great job of being able to throw strikes and attacking the zone,' Cook said.