Harbor Hawks Complete Season Sweep as Anglers Strand Nine
The stands at McKeon Park in Hyannis swelled with fans as the Chatham Anglers and Hyannis Harbor Hawks took the field on Friday night.
It could have been the league-wide off day on Thursday that brought the baseball-starved fans to the park in droves. Or the beautiful summer evening may have encouraged a large turnout. Perhaps the beginning of July Fourth weekend contributed to the packed house.
One thing is for sure, if you were rooting for the home team, you had more to cheer about.
Hyannis was victorious 6-1 over Chatham, sweeping the season series.
Toeing the rubber for the Anglers was Pat Light (Monmouth), while the host Harbor Hawks sent Scott Firth (Clemson) to the mound.
Stranding base runners would spell doom for a Chatham team that was looking to avoid the season sweep at the hands of Hyannis.
The lack of timely hitting began in the very first inning. Chatham's Stephen Perez (Miami), who entered the game with a team leading .489 on-base percentage, drew a two-out walk, as did cleanup batter Dane Phillips (Oklahoma State). Firth got out of the inning unscathed when he forced DH Sean Reilly (Rollins) to ground out.
The Harbor Hawks put a crooked number on the scoreboard in the bottom of the frame. With two runners on and one out, Hyannis cleanup hitter Adam Walker (Jacksonville) drove in the game's first run with a single, followed two batters later by a Justin Gonzalez (Miami) two-out, two-run triple to left field.
Anglers catcher J.T. Watkins (West Point) had a busy night behind home plate. Gonzalez, much to the surprise of the McKeon Park crowd, attempted to steal home, but was cut down at the plate to end the inning.
"I was a little surprised," said Watkins. "He [Pitcher Pat Light] recognized it and I recognized it, so he threw a fastball and we got the guy out and it was good execution."
The top of the third inning was one of the few other bright spots for a Chatham team that has lost three straight. Beau Amaral's (UCLA) lead-off double meant that he would continue an eight game hit streak, currently the longest in the CCBL.
Next, Hyannis' Firth surrendered the fourth walk of his outing, putting two runners on base with no outs. A perfect sacrifice bunt by Perez put Amaral in position to score the Anglers' first and only run of the evening thanks to an RBI single from Phillips.
The Chatham half of the inning would stall with two more runners stranded on base. By the end of the night, the Anglers left a total of nine baserunners stranded.
On that deleterious trend, Chatham manager John Schiffner said, "It's not looking good right now and if that doesn't turn around, we'll be in for a long summer."
The play of Watkins was one positive sign that the skipper could take away from Friday's game.
Watkins denied Gonzalez at the dish once again in the fourth inning by blocking the plate and applying the tag on a double steal attempt. In the seventh, with reliever Tucker Healy (Ithaca) on the mound, the Anglers' battery completed an inning-ending strike'em out throw'em out double play.
Throw in a hit and a walk offensively, and Watkins proved to be a reliable option behind the plate.
"That's what we expect him to do. He is playing very well, that's a good outing for him," said Schiffner.
Chatham starter Pat Light was only responsible for the three first-inning runs. The fourth run came across in the fourth inning and was unearned, a result of an error at third base by Alex Calbick (Maine).
The other two Hyannis runs were scored in the home half of the seventh inning off of Eric Jaffe (UCLA). After a lead-off single, Hyannis' Eric Stamets (Evansville) came to the plate and executed a hit and run to perfection, setting the table for Joey Rickard's two run triple.
Three other Angler pitchers worked scoreless innings: Chad Gallagher (Marist), Healy, and Matthew Koch (Louisville).
On Saturday, Chatham hosts the Harwich Mariners. First pitch is at 7 p.m. ET.