The rival Chatham Anglers and Orleans Firebirds met Sunday night in the first game of a home and home Fourth of July series. In front of a full house at Eldredge Park in Orleans, Anglers starter Dace Kime (Louisville) was handed the loss in a 7-3 game.
For Orleans, left-hander Ryan Carpenter (Gonzaga) was touched for three runs over five innings, but his nine strikeouts frustrated Chatham all night.
The Anglers first trip to the plate was an early indicator of things to come. Carpenter, showcasing a high leg kick and tough curveball, punched out the first two Angler batters he faced, Joe Sever (Pepperdine) and Beau Amaral (UCLA).
Despite going down 14 times by way of the K, the Angler offense did in fact draw first blood. Matt Roberts (UNC), who had an impressive night in his debut on Saturday, led off the third inning with an opposite field home run.
For any of those in attendance who were not paying attention, the ear-splitting sound of bat on ball jolted their focus back to the game.
The play of Roberts has not gone unnoticed by his manager John Schiffner.
"I'm really happy for him. He's a great player. Three hits tonight, an opposite field home run, I hope our other guys feed off of that," Schiffner said.
In fact, the opposite field hits seemed to be contagious for the Anglers. Richie Shaffer (Clemson) went the other way for a double to right field in the fourth, and Sever did the same in the eighth. Both were stranded on base.
Amaral would be sure to make his fifth-inning opposite-field poke count.
The UCLA Bruin stood at the plate with a run in and Roberts on third, thanks to a double and subsequent wild pitch. The left-handed batting Amaral slapped a Carpenter offering into left field for an RBI single.
That hit tied the game at 3-3. It would be as close as the Anglers came to the lead for the rest of the evening.
Chatham's hurler, Dace Kime, twice fell victim to the long ball.
In the home half of the fourth, Orleans' Anthony Gomez (Vanderbilt) scored on a fielder's choice, after a double and wild pitch had put him on third base.
Ronnie Shaeffer (UC Irvine) broke the 1-1 tie with an opposite field homer of his own.
After the Chatham knotted the score with its two-run fifth inning, Jayce Boyd (Florida State) put Orleans in the lead for good, 4-3, with a towering solo shot to right field.
The Firebirds infielders flashed some leather in the latter innings, keeping the Anglers off the scoreboard.
Two UNC products who made their Chatham debuts were not greeted warmly by the host Orleans hitters. Righty Chris Munnelly allowed a run on two hits in the seventh and his teammate Cody Penny allowed two runs on two hits and three walks in the eighth.
When asked to evaluate their outings, Chatham's skipper said, "Pretty Good. A little rusty, but they will be fine."
The Anglers look to recover from a five game slide, as well as to avenge Sunday's loss, when they take the field Monday night in Chatham against Orleans. First pitch of the Fourth of July showdown is at 7 p.m. ET.