Chatham Wins in Dramatic Fashion, Breaks Winless Streak
by Mike Morris Tuesday, July 05, 2011
The snakebit Chatham Anglers had tried everything. Some grew moustaches and mullets, others made voodoo bats, and the manager shaved his moustache. The squad even held an extra-long postgame team meeting on Monday.
In the end, it was the left arm of starter Tim Cooney (Wake Forest) and the bat of Joe Sever (Pepperdine) that finally lifted the curse off of the hometown team.
Chatham broke its six-game losing streak in dramatic fashion Tuesday night against the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox, winning by a score of 3-2.
Cooney was magnificent in seven scoreless innings of work, and Sever came through with a pinch-hit, go-ahead RBI in the bottom of the eighth inning that proved to be the game's winning run.
And if it was execution that the ailing Anglers needed, southpaw Tim Cooney was just what the doctor ordered.
"Work fast, throw strikes, change speeds," said manager John Schiffner when chronicling the keys to Cooney's success. "He threw exceptionally well."
Despite not getting the win, Cooney's final line was impressive: no runs allowed through seven innings, five hits, zero walks, and eight strikeouts.
The 6'3" southpaw opened the game with two punchouts, and would smother the potent Y-D lineup for the remainder of his outing, recording three 1-2-3 innings.
The defense behind Cooney did its part as well. In the top of the second, shortstop Stephen Perez (Miami) cut down a run at the plate when he charged a high chopper hit by Y-D's Cody Keefer (UCLA) and fired a strike to Chatham catcher Matt Roberts (UNC) in time to tag the runner.
In the top of the fifth, with SEC Player of the Year Mike Zunino (Florida) pinch-hitting for the Red Sox, Cooney was helped by a 4-6-3 inning-ending double play. Chatham's recently reactivated second baseman Pat Blair (Wake Forest) started the twin killing with a quick flip to Perez, who rifled a throw to first. The ever-important stretch by first baseman Kris Bryant (San Diego) completed the picture-perfect play.
Perez recorded another defensive gem in the sixth. When Y-D's number three hitter James Ramsey (Florida State) shot a grounder into the hole at short, Perez ranged over to his right, made a backhanded scoop, and gunned out Ramsey at first.
But it was not just pitching and fielding that brought home the W for Chatham.
The Anglers played small ball in the bottom of the second inning in order to plate the game's first run. Consecutive singles by Alex Calbick (Maine) and Bryant, followed by a flawlessly executed sacrifice bunt by Roberts set the table for a Darrell Matthews (Cal) RBI. The Red Sox traded a run for an out, and the Anglers were on the scoreboard.
In the fifth, Richie Shaffer (Clemson) came to the plate for Chatham with two on and two out. As Shaffer would discover, sometimes taking advantage of your opponent's mistakes is as rewarding as making a great play yourself.
An infield grounder by the right-handed batter from Clemson turned into Chatham's second run off of starter Zack Weiss (UCLA), courtesy of a throwing error by shortstop Matt Wessinger (St. Johns).
Tim Cooney exited the game with a 2-0 lead, but it would not be a large enough cushion to earn him the win.
The Red Sox tied up the game in the eighth, when two unearned runs were charged to Chatham reliever Matt Koch (Louisville). An error by Bryant, a fielder's choice, and an infield hit meant that neither starting pitcher would get the decision.
In the bottom of the eighth, with two outs and the go-ahead run standing ninety feet away at third base, Schiffner had a decision of his own to make: send Darrell Matthews up to bat, or install a pinch hitter.
"Darrell just got here. He's still trying to get his feet wet," said Schiffner when asked what was going through his mind in that crucial situation.
On the other hand...
"Joe has been swinging the bat pretty well," said Chatham's skipper. "He's been in that situation before, so we thought we'd make a move [to pinch hit] him."
The right-handed batting Joe Sever made his manager look like a genius when he laced a 1-1 offering from Red Sox reliever Matt Carasiti (St. Johns) into the outfield for the tie-breaking run.
Bryant, who scored on Sever's hit, was greeted by an ebullient Anglers' dugout.
Chatham reliever Zack Jones (San Jose State) would put the exclamation point on the 3-2 victory by striking out Wessinger and pinch-hitter Jacob Lamb (Washington) in the ninth. The other out in the ninth inning came when Roberts threw out pinch-runner Michael O'Neill (Michigan) while trying to steal second.
The victory represented a new beginning for a Chatham team that is now 6-14-1.
"We are going to forget about the first twenty games of the season, and commit ourselves to the next twenty-four games," said Schiffner.
When asked if the shaving of his moustache could have had any impact on Tuesday's win, the Anglers' skipper was skeptical.
"No, not at all," he replied.
On second thought, "But it is 1-0," said a laughing Schiffner.
The Anglers travel to Brewster for a 5 p.m. contest against the Whitecaps on Wednesday.