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Chatham Battles for the Win in Harwich

by Mike Morris
Monday, July 11, 2011

Chatham Battles for the Win in Harwich
For the third straight night, it seemed the Anglers would come away with the win. For the third time in a row, the opponent snatched the lead back late in the game.

But, for the first time in six days, the Anglers fought back to earn the victory, 6-5 in Harwich.

Before the first pitch of Monday's contest was even thrown, both teams knew they were in for a wacky evening of baseball.

Harwich's starter RHP Pierce Johnson (Missouri State), who carried a 1-1 record with a 4.38 ERA for the Mariners, would be forced to leave the game before officially entering it.

While throwing his first warm-up pitch on the mound before the top of the first inning, Johnson crumbled to the dirt, clutching his right knee.

Enter lefty Andrew Leenhouts (Northeastern). The Franklin, MA native entered the game with some impressive numbers: 1-0 record and a 1.15 ERA in 15.2 innings.

"You cant make some of this stuff up," said a bewildered Chatham manager John Schiffner. "We have a nice left-handed hitting lineup set-up against their righty, and all of a sudden the poor guy goes down."

Opposing the Mariners' southpaw spot starter was Dace Kime (Louisville), 1-2 with a 3.47 ERA in 23.1 innings.

Through three innings, the game was scoreless. In the fourth, however, Chatham found its offensive stride.

Joe Sever (Pepperdine) led off with a screaming double to the center field fence. Dane Phillips (Oklahoma State) then roped another double into left. Harwich's Billy Burns (Mercer) took a circuitous angle to the bouncing ball, allowing Sever to score easily.

One run was not enough for the greedy Richie Shaffer (Clemson), who according to his manager, has been "in the zone" for the last couple of games.

For the third time in three days, Shaffer belted a two-run home run to left field. It was a no-doubt-about-it bomb that put Chatham up by a score of 3-0.

The fourth would be Leenhouts' last inning of work. He was replaced by Kevin Carlow (Brown), who was backed by some great defense in his scoreless 2.2 innings of work.

Entering the home half of the seventh inning, the Anglers had still only used one pitcher. Dace Kime had allowed one run in the previous inning on a hit, stolen base, and RBI single.

On the other hand, Chatham was on to its third catcher of the evening by the time the seventh inning rolled around. Phillips had been replaced by Sean Reilly (Rollins), who was replaced mid-sixth inning by J.T. Watkins (West Point) when Reilly appeared to injure his wrist.

Dace Kime was chased from the game in the seventh after a grounder in between shortstop and third base was followed by a fielder's choice and error in right field (on the throw to second base).

Chatham's reliever Eric Jaffe (UCLA) was brought on in a tough spot: runners on second and third with one out. The situation got the best of Jaffe.

Keith Werman slapped an RBI single into center field (unearned run). The next batter, Austin Wilson (Stanford), did not have to do much to tie the game. A wild pitch by Jaffe allowed his second inherited runner to score (earned).

The score was tied at 3-3 when Matt Koch (Louisville) relieved Jaffe.

Harwich's ninth batter proved to be its most dangerous. Alex Swim (Elon) was 4-4 Monday night with a run scored and an RBI.

Koch fell victim to Swim's streaky bat when the lefty batter drove an RBI double to the opposite field.

The unpredictable nature of the Monday's game at Whitehouse Field was again evident with the next sequence of events.

Lead-off man Ronnie Richardson (Central Florida) stepped up to bat with runners on second and third, one out, and Harwich now leading 4-3. Anglers' manager John Schiffner elected to give Richardson the intentional walk, thus setting up a possible double play to end the inning.

But, following with the theme of Game 25 in Harwich, even so simple a play as an intentional base on balls was anything but easy.

Koch air-mailed the first pitch of the at bat over the head of his catcher and into the backstop fence. The run easily scored from third base, extending the Mariners' lead to 5-3.

That was still the score when the Anglers came to bat in the top of the ninth. Lex Rutledge (Samford) was in to close for Harwich.

Amaral legged out a swinging bunt on the infield for a hit, and then advanced to second base on a wild pitch. Kris Bryant (San Diego) drove home Amaral with a double, cutting the lead to 5-4.

Harwich made a pitching change, asking Grant Gordon (Missouri State) to get the Mariners out of a two-on, no out situation.

Instead, in another bizarre moment, Gordon could not seem to grip the ball while fielding a tremendous bunt by Chatham's Darrell Matthews (Cal).

Evan Marzilli (South Carolina) came to the plate for Chatham in a bases loaded, no out scenario, looking for his first hit in three games on the Cape.

He wasted no time, drilling a first-pitch single to right field, tying the score at 5-5.

If Marzilli was an unlikely choice for a ninth inning, game-tying first hit of the season, then Joe Sever was certainly not a surprise pick for a go-ahead RBI late in the game.

Sever, or Mr. Clutch, had already logged three game-winning RBI on the 2011 season. Make that four game-winning RBI.

The Pepperdine product lifted a fly ball to right field, plenty deep enough to score Calbick, who tagged up from third base, giving Chatham back the lead, 6-5.

And the zany action in Monday's Chatham-Harwich game would not have been complete without some good old-fashion, bottom-of-the-ninth-inning drama.

Shiffner sent in Zack Jones (San Jose State) to close the game. Jones had struggled a bit lately, but a vicious curveball to strike out Darnell Sweeney inspired hope.

Four batters later, after a hit, line out, hit (Alex Swim strikes again), and walk, Jones had put himself in quite the predicament.

Billy Burns was at bat with the bases loaded and two outs in a 6-5 game. The count was 1-2. Chatham needed an out, Harwich needed a run.

After rifling two fastballs over the plate, the hard-throwing Anglers' closer opted to finish off Burns with a curveball that fell right off the table. Burns and the Eastern Division leading Mariners went down swinging.

Chatham 6 Harwich 5.

"I'm really proud of our kids," said manager John Schiffner. "They could have went in the tank, but they didn't. They battled their butts off."

Chatham hosts Brewster at Veterans Field, Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET.

Box Score:

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