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Anglers Fall Victim to Walk-off Heroics in Wareham

by Mike Morris
Saturday, July 09, 2011

Chatham Anglers
The Chatham Anglers made the long trek to Wareham Saturday night in search of win number seven on the season. The Gatemen, however, would be the team to add another game to the win column, improving to 11-13, while Chatham fell to 6-16-1.

Despite being in control for most of the game, Chatham lost to Wareham by a score of 6-5. The Gatemen were helped by some spotty defense late in the game by Chatham and a dramatic walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth by Max Muncy (Baylor).

Anglers' starter Keith Bilodeau (Maine) entered the game with a 0-1 record and a 1.86 ERA in 19.1 innings. His counterpart for Wareham, right-hander Barrett Astin (Arkansas), was 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA through 8.1 innings of work.

Bilodeau motored through his first six innings of work, giving up only one earned run (three total) on six hits, two walks, and six punchouts.

In contrast, Wareham's Astin had to battle his way through an Anglers' lineup that was intent on putting the bat on the ball. Astin allowed four runs (all earned) through five innings on nine hits, two walks, and most notably, zero strikeouts.

Chatham has gone down by way of the K more times than any other team in the CCBL.

On a night when the Anglers only struck out four times through the first eight innings, there were hints of how dangerous Chatham's offense could be if it cut down on the strikeouts.

Angler John Gianis (NC State) slapped a grounder through the hole between the first baseman and second baseman to lead off the second inning. A J.T. Watkins (West Point) groundout advanced Gianis to second. With two outs in the inning, Darrell Matthews (Cal) drove an RBI double to right field for Chatham's first run of the night.

The score entering the top of the third inning was 1-1. After Dane Phillips (Oklahoma State) legged out an infield hit, Richie Shaffer (Clemson) struck the game's first big blow when he drilled a 3-2 pitch over the fence in left-center field.

Though it was Shaffer's home run that made it 3-1 in favor of Chatham, Phillips's work on the base paths cannot be overlooked.

While at first base, Phillips drew no less than three pick-off throws from pitcher Barrett Astin. The hurler from Arkansas had not started a game on the mound since high school, and the distraction caused by Phillips at first could not have helped the already uncomfortable Astin.

Phillips's contribution would not end there, but first, another major contributor for Chatham would have his say.

Angler catcher J.T. Watkins, who was batting a paltry .133 with no home runs when he arrived a Spillane Field Saturday night, led off the fourth inning with a solo home run, increasing Chatham's lead to 4-1.

Although not known for his bat, Watkins made his presence felt at the plate Saturday night. And, as has become customary for Anglers' catchers, he continued the trend of throwing out runners on the base paths.

The bottom of the first saw Watkins nail two Gatemen baserunners at second base, one trying to steal, the other attempting to stretch a single into a double. In the bottom of the fifth, Watkins ended the Wareham threat when he gunned down C.T. Bradford (Mississippi State) at second.

However, Saturday night proved to be fickle for the man wearing the tools of ignorance for Chatham.

It was a 4-1 Angler lead entering the bottom of the fifth inning. Johnny Field (Arizona) was on second base, thanks to a base hit and an errant pick-off attempt by Bilodeau to his first baseman, Kris Bryant (San Diego).

When Field took off for third, Watkins fired a low throw to the bag that skipped into left field, allowing Field to come home.

Chatham still led, 4-2.

In the bottom of the seventh, with Chatham on top 5-2, Wareham again chipped away at the lead. After a Max Muncy single chased Bilodeau from the game, Anglers' reliever Matt Koch (Louisville) came on to pitch.

With Koch on the mound, Muncy took second base on a wild pitch. Watkins then committed his second error of the night when his toss to second base went sailing into center field.

Muncy scrambled for third, but when Darrell Matthews let the ball skip past him in center field, Muncy easily scampered all the way home, making the score 5-3.

That was how the scoreboard looked in the bottom of the ninth with Wareham's 2-3-4 hitters due at the plate.

Chatham closer Zack Jones (San Jose State) took the hill with the task of recording his fourth save of the season, to go along with a 1-0 record and 2.16 ERA.

That undertaking quickly turned into a debacle. John Andreoli (UConn) sprayed a single down the right field line, followed by a walk to Robert Refsnyder (Arizona). With no outs, the potential winning run stepped to the plate--Max Muncy.

Wareham's cleanup hitter worked the count full before sending Jones's 3-2 offering over the right field fence. Though hard to believe, the walk-off home run was just the second round-tripper for the Gatemen all season.

The Anglers hope to sneak up on the first place Harwich Mariners Sunday at Veterans Field. The first pitch is at 5:30 p.m. ET.

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