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BOURNE ' Manager Tom Holliday abandoned the Anglers' usual four-inning cap, letting Nicholas Regalado pace back onto the mound in the bottom of the fifth. He cleaned the ball with both hands, fixed his hat and jerked his arm before launching his coveted breaking balls.
But his pitches didn't land like earlier. Regalado walked the first two batters he faced, forcing pitching coach Dennis Cook to make a trip to the mound. Regalado stayed in after the conversation though, and Ryan Leitch took advantage of the fatigued pitcher with a single to right field.
Cook returned to the mound with the bases loaded, pulling Regalado for Carlos Rey. Carson Roccaforte, who opened the bottom of the first with a single to shallow center field, found the same early success against Rey. He smacked the ball to third base, bringing home Wyatt Henseler as Aidan Meola couldn't corral the ball.
'I've been in the pen before, coming in with bases loaded and no outs,' Rey said. 'I definitely could have done some damage a little more, but you got to control what you can control.'
Chatham's pitching was solid early on ' Regalado allowed just two hits over his first four frames and tossed two 1-2-3 innings. But the Anglers' staff folded at timely moments late in the game, allowing Bourne to take back the lead twice. And the offense couldn't muster the spark needed to outscore the Braves, amounting just three hits to Bourne's eight.
'We just continue to struggle with the bat even though we played pretty good defense,' Holliday said. 'That game was won and lost at the end.'
Roccaforte singled to start the bottom of the first. After Roccaforte stole second a few pitches later, Aidan Meola dove to stop a grounder from Christopher Brito. He stopped the ball in its tracks, but it bounced off his knee and he was unable to to step on third or throw to first in time.
Regalado settled in with a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the second. He used his 'touch,' which manager Tom Holliday has praised, to confuse Bourne's bats on countless breaking balls. Back-to-back batters struck out swinging against Regalado for the first two outs before Marcus Brown fielded a grounder, throwing to Caden Grice to retire the side.
Regalado went back onto the mound in the bottom of the third after Jake DeLeo avoided a tag at home plate to give Chatham a 1-0 lead a few minutes earlier. In four pitches, Regalado made Ryan Leitch swing and miss three times for the first out.
Roccaforte stepped back into the batter's box next. He made contact again, but the ball dribbled into second baseman Roc Riggio's glove. For the final out, Matt Shaw swung on the second pitch. The ball again dribbled along the infield grass, this time at a running Brown, who flipped the ball to Grice at first base on one hop.
Chatham's stellar defense opened the possibility for its offense to take over in the top of the seventh. Thomas Caufield watched the first pitch he faced hit the strike zone and swung and missed on the ensuing one. Pinch-hitting for Dominic Tamez, Caufield launched the next pitch down the right field foul line, the ball dribbling past the reach of the outstretched first baseman to bring Matt Hogan home.
Riggio, who had yet to notch a hit since arriving in Chatham, entered the batter's box for his 13th at-bat of the season. Earlier, he had smacked the ball directly at Shaw, the fourth time this season Riggio had hit into a double play. Riggio hit the ball to the same spot, Shaw got the out at second, but Riggio beat the throw to first, bringing in Grice to tie the game at 3-3.
Following walks to Cooper Ingle and Paul Winland Jr., the bases loaded again. Both Ingle and Winland Jr. worked to full counts, and Jake DeLeo, who had a grand slam two nights earlier, entered the box. But like his previous two teammates, DeLeo stayed patient. With a full count, he watched the pitch land out of the zone, walking to first base while Ingle scored to give Chatham its second lead of the night.
Rey delivered his first scoreless inning in the next frame, but he added that he could have pounded the ball more while also working in a changeup. He tripped on the mound trying to pick up a grounder from the third batter he faced in the bottom of the eighth, though he successfully made the throw to first base from the grass.
But Rey's quick play couldn't stop a fly ball from Dakota Harris, which soared right over Brown's outstretched body at shortstop. Bourne had two players on base at the time, bringing in both to take back the lead from Chatham.
Brian Holiday promptly came in to finish the game, but the bleeding was already enough. And in the top of the ninth, Chatham went down in order, unable to answer back.
'Bottom line is, you have to outscore the opponent,' Holliday said. 'It's hard to beat anybody with three hits' our two pitchers both did great.'