Chatham entered Thursday's game against Orleans still smarting from a lost opportunity to pick up a win Wednesday at Y-D. That game had disappeared in the Anglers' collective rear view mirror, though, after a 4-3 victory over the Firebirds in Orleans.
The Anglers submitted a total team effort, combining solid starting pitching with lights-out bullpen work, backed by crisp fielding and just enough offense.
It was an efficient game all around, lasting only 2 hours and 10 minutes. For a Chatham team that seems to hit the 3 hour mark almost nightly, Thursday's game felt like it was being played in fast-forward.
The man most responsible for that was Anglers' starting pitcher Buck Farmer (Georgia Tech), who picked up his first win of the season, going six innings without allowing a walk. He surrendered three runs (two earned), on seven hits and three strikeouts.
Even more efficient was closer Matt Koch (Louisville), who recorded his first save. Through three innings of work, Koch saw the minimum nine Orleans' batters, collecting four Ks in the process.
Chatham's Dane Phillips (Oklahoma State) made sure the Anglers' would not suffer due to lack of run support.
In the third inning, Alex Calbick (Maine)splintered his bat on a bloop hit to shallow left field. An Evan Marzilli (South Carolina) single and Stephen Perez (Miami) hit-by-pitch meant the bases were full with only one out.
Dane Phillips then cleared the bases with a triple to deep right center field. Those three RBI made him the team leader in that category (14).
Orleans' LHP Jason Wheeler, who entered the game with a record of 1-3 with a 2.41, was not out of the woods yet.
There was still only one out in the third, and with Phillips on third base, Richie Shaffer (Clemson) rocketed a fly ball to center field. In many CCBL ballparks it would have been good for a home run. As it was, Phillips easily tagged up at third base, scoring Chathams fourth run.
After jumping out to a 4-0 lead, the Anglers would not look back.
Two quiet runs would cross the plate for the Firebirds, one each in the third and fourth innings, courtesy of two soft hits (third inning) and a sac fly (fourth inning). At no time, however, did the crowd that covered Orleans' right field grass bleachers ever get the feeling that Farmer was ready to crack.
A one-out single was followed by the Anglers' only error of the contest. Cleanup batter and league home run leader Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville) reached first after Chatham's second baseman Joe Sever (Pepperdine) hesitated, then double-clutched on a grounder hit to him.
A wild pitch by Farmer allowed the base runners to advance to third base and second base with only one out. Anglers' shortstop Stephen Perez covered a lot of ground to glove a Steve Selsky (Arizona) grounder, but the slow-hit ball meant that Perez had no play at first.
The run came home from third, but Perez likely saved the second run from scoring with his defensive effort. The score was now 4-3 in favor of Chatham.
Firebird base runners stood at the corners, and with one out in the inning, Orleans' catcher Matt Koch (Loyola Marymount) came to bat.
Koch surprised everyone at Eldredge Park by laying down a bunt. Farmer charged off of the mound, gloved the ball, and, forgoing the glove-to-hand transfer, flipped the ball to his catcher. Phillips, who was blocking home plate, caught the ball moments before Waldrip arrived, stonewalling him for the second out of the inning.
More importantly, the dramatic play at the plate preserved the Anglers' 4-3 lead, as Farmer forced Matt Duffy (Long Beach State) to ground out to end the sixth inning.
Chatham's Matt Koch (yes, there was a Matt Koch playing for each team) pitched three perfect frames to close the game.
Like his team's play on the field, Chatham manager John Schiffner was economical in his game summary.
"Buck threw fabulous, Matt threw great. We made the plays that we had to, we got a couple clutch hits--Dane clears the bases--and let's go home," said Schiffner.
When asked what the lineup might be against Harwich on Friday, the Anglers' skipper was mostly noncommittal.
"We'll see what the matchups look like and go from there. Everyone is really contributing and doing their jobs."
He was, however, sure of one thing.
"Obviously, we're gonna keep Dane in the lineup because he's hot."
The Mariners visit Veterans Field in Chatham on Friday night at 7 p.m. ET.