The Chatham Anglers (6-17-1) hosted the Eastern Division leading Harwich Mariners (16-9) on Sunday night at Veterans Field.
The two teams did their best Red Sox-Yankees impression; after twelve innings, eleven pitchers, four replacement players, and one blown lead, the Mariners defeated the Anglers 7-5.
The game lasted 3 hours and 18 minutes. Carter Capps (Mount Olive) was the winning pitcher, throwing the final two scoreless innings for Harwich.
Tucker Healy (Ithaca) was saddled with the loss, after going 2.2 innings and allowing two runs (one earned).
Chatham is now 1-9 in its last ten games. One trend that has become evident over that stretch is the squandering of good starting pitching.
RHP Chris Munnelly (UNC) went five full innings for Chatham, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk, while also striking out seven.
Munnelly's night began when he plunked the first two batters he faced. Ronnie Richardson (Central Florida) eventually scored on a sac fly by Jake Davies (Georgia Tech). But with two Ks in the inning, Munnelly escaped further damage.
Munnelly retired the side in order in the second, third, and fourth innngs. In fact, it was not until Austin Nola (LSU) singled to lead off the fifth that Munnelly even allowed a hit.
But the fifth would be Munnelly's last inning of work. The Mariners plated two runs, and it would have been more if not for a spectacular play deep at third base by Anglers' Pat Blair (Wake Forest), who fired a long throw across the diamond that just beat Luke Voit (Mizzouri State) to the bag.
Munnelly left with a 5-3 lead, courtesy of two Angler home runs.
Stephen Perez (Miami) turned on a pitch from Harwich starter LHP Nick Routt (Mississippi State) and launched it over the fence in left field. After Joe Sever (Pepperdine) hit a ball past the diving Harwich shortstop, Richie Shaffer (Clemson) came to the plate.
Shaffer, fresh off of a game in Wareham in which he went yard, lifted a waist-high offering from Routt out of the ballpark for a two-run dinger.
Chatham led 3-1 after the first inning.
The Anglers, who seemed to turn the corner offensively in Wareham on Saturday, continued to score runs early.
In the bottom of the second, with one out and runners on the corners, hot-hitting Stephen Perez roped an RBI single to left, ending Nick Routt's night on the mound for Harwich. An Evan Marzilli (South Carolina) chopper to first base resulted in another run for Chatham when the new Harwich pitcher, Devin Burke (VTech), failed to secure the catch while covering first base.
The 5-3 Angler lead would stand until the top of the seventh inning.
Anglers' reliever Pat Light (Monmouth) allowed Voit to single, then steal second base. A wild pitch sent Voit to third. With two outs in the inning, Harwichs Richardson drove home Voit with a RBI single.
The collapse would be complete when, in the top of the ninth, Chatham's Trae Davis (Baylor) allowed the tying run to cross the plate for Harwich.
A one-out single by Darnell Sweeney (Central Florida) was almost erased when Chatham's catcher Matt Roberts (UNC) nearly threw out Sweeney stealing second base. Two batters later, the 6'4" 235 lbs. Austin Wilson (Stanford) singled off of Davis to tie the game at 5-5.
The marathon ended in the twelfth inning.
Chatham's strikeout machine (17 Ks in 11.2 innings) Tucker Healy was on the hill for manager John Schiffner when Harwich defensive replacement Jabari Henry (Florida International) ripped a standup double to left field, tying him for the league lead in two-baggers (9).
After walking the next batter, Richardson, Schiffner made the move for reliever Cody Penny (UNC). He came in with runners on the corners and one out.
The next sequence would seal Chatham's fate.
Richardson took off for second base. The pitch from Penny was high, a designed pitch out, but the ball popped out of Roberts' glove. The speedy Henry bolted for home, and by the time Roberts located the ball and lunged for the plate, his tag was too late. Henry had scored the go-ahead run for Harwich.
Adding insult to injury, the Mariners would score another run before the inning was over. Richardson, standing at third base, took advantage of a passed ball by Roberts. The scoreboard in left field read 7-5 Harwich.
The Anglers put two runners on in the bottom of the twelfth inning, but Division III standout RHP Carter Capps (Mount Olive) and his sidearm delivery proved too much for the Chatham hitters.
It was another heartbreaking loss for an Angler team that suffered a ninth inning walk-off loss Saturday against Wareham.
"Its just not clicking," said manager John Schiffner before the game. "We have to be accountable somehow."
The second game of the home-and-home series between Harwich and Chatham takes place Monday night in Harwich. First pitch is at 7 p.m. ET.