Opening Game Ends in a Tie
Friday was a tale of what could have been.
After three full innings, the Anglers held a five run lead at a time in the season when bats are typically quiet. But as quickly as the lead was built, the Kettleers whittled it to nothing. Cotuit would have the final word in their first meeting with Chatham, producing a two-run knock in the bottom of the ninth to salvage a tie.
In Chatham's opener with Cotuit at Lowell Park, the Anglers started off on a tear. Before the bottom of the third inning rolled around, Chatham had already amassed nine hits, the result of three consecutive hits strung together on three separate occasions. Junior Matt Fleishman's (Villanova) emphatic blast to left center for a grand slam in the top half of the third inning stated Chatham's presence.
The frame started with the Anglers' leadoff hitter, Joe Sever (Pepperdine). After a Sever single was followed up by base knocks from Zack Jones (San Jose State) and Kris Bryant (San Diego), the table was set for Fleishman.
The Villanova product did not disappoint. Fleishman's Welcome-to-Cape-Cod moment came with two strikes on a belt-high fastball. In his first CCBL game, Fleishman catapulted a no-doubter well into Lowell Park's iconic forest of trees beyond the leftfield fence.
Even after Fleishman emptied the bases with one swing, the Anglers refused to go away in the top of the third inning.
Enter Sean Reilly.
The junior Rollins College product made it back-to-back homers; swatting a ball to left on an almost identical path to Fleishman's long ball. The middle of Chatham's order, Reilly included, managed six hits in as many plate appearances through one third of the game. Cotuit hurler DJ Snelten (Minnesota) was chased early, but not before Chatham had put up six runs.
Chatham played error-free baseball throughout the evening and threw ACC standout Tim Cooney. Cooney was a world beater through five, allowing just four hits with one walk. The wiry lefty touched 92 on the radar gun with a well-located curve. It was the same stuff that netted 91 punch outs for Cooney against only 18 walks over 98 innings pitched at Wake Forest this spring.
Normally, pitchers who allow six earned through three innings can expect to pick up a loss. Pitchers who go 5 2/3 and leave the game with a four-run lead generally also expect to get a win. But on Friday night in Cotuit, the last three frames illustrated how fragile leads in the CCBL can be.
Chatham outfielders Brent Hopkins (Massachusetts) and Justin Leisenheimer (Maine) drilled back-to-back doubles in the bottom of the seventh to tack on the Anglers final run, but the inning was stifled when a pair of long fly balls to right field were tracked down. The Kettleers shuffled through four pitchers over the course of Friday evening's contest. After Snelten's outing was cut short, a trio of pitchers each gave two plus innings of solid relief.
As they entered the home half of the sixth inning, the Kettleers had put one lone run across the plate. Over the next four at-bats, they would effectively chip away at the deficit. Designated hitter and Georgia Southern sophomore David Roache laced an RBI double in the sixth to get a run back, with production in every inning from there on out.
Then, with two in scoring position in the bottom of the ninth, one swing of the bat turned a 7-5 game into a 7-7 game. Just two pitches later, Chatham's defense got out of the inning, and as it turned out, to finish up the game as a tie. Without lights at Lowell Park, the game was called for darkness at the conclusion of the ninth inning.
Both Chatham and Cotuit are now 0-0-1. The Anglers play their home opener Saturday evening at 7 p.m. against Wareham.