Chatham made it three wins in a row on Tuesday night with an 8-3 victory against rival Orleans.
The crowd on hand to witness the Anglers' fourth win in five attempts was arguably larger than the July Fourth showing, which is traditionally the high-water mark for attendance.
One explanation could have been that Tuesday's installment of the Chatham-Orleans rivalry had added playoff meaning. The Anglers (11-20-1) are looming larger and larger in the Firebirds' (13-16-3) rearview mirror. If the fourth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Division does indeed come down to Chatham and Orleans, the final two games of the regular season (a home-and-home series between the Anglers and Firebirds) could decide each team's fate.
Other possible reasons for the packed house at Veterans Field: a picture-perfect summer evening, free giveaways (Black Dog tee-shirts and Cape Cod Chips), local boy John Brebbia (Elon) pitching for Orleans, or simply a more entertaining (and successful) brand of baseball from Chatham.
In what has become a commonplace occurrence, Chatham's starting pitching turned in another impressive performance.
However, the fashion in which Anglers' starter Dom Leone (Clemson) picked up his first win of the season was anything but ordinary. Leone hurled a gem, working seven innings, surrendering three runs on six hits, one walk, and six strikeouts.
When asked how he managed to stay ahead of hitters, especially late in his outing, Leone replied, "The second and third time through the lineup I tried to vary my pitches and my approach to keep them off balance."
When he left after having thrown 100 pitches, the Orleans hitters had still not figured out Leone, who had been staked to a 4-3 lead, thanks to Chatham's RBI men, namely Dane Phillips (OK State) and Richie Shaffer (Clemson).
Just like clockwork, the Anglers drew first blood. Three hits, by Shaffer, Kris Bryant (San Diego), and Alex Calbick (Maine) netted two runs and a second-inning lead.
It would be short-lived. A walk and back-to-back seeing-eye ground balls loaded the bases for Orleans in the top of the next frame. Jayce Boyd (Florida State) picked up an RBI with a fielder's choice, and slugger Ben Waldrip (Jacksonville State) tied the score 2-2 with an infield hit deep to the hole at shortstop, forcing Stephen Perez (Miami) to make a tardy throw to first.
After scoring the first two runs quietly, Orleans took the lead on another unconventional play.
In the top of the fifth, leadoff hitter Andrew Aplin (Arizona State) doubled, was advanced to third on a ground out, and scored on a wild pitch from Leone, with Waldrip at the dish. The Firebirds would not hold the 3-2 lead for long, though.
With the CCBL All-Star Game to be played on July 29th at Fenway Park, Dane Phillips continued to loudly state his case for all-star consideration.
In the bottom of the fifth, Phillips poked an RBI single to center field off of new Oreleans relief pitcher Tyler Gebler (Rutgers). Evan Marzilli (South Carolina) scored on the play, having reached base via a walk. Richie Shaffer then stepped to the plate, driving an RBI double to left that plated Sever from second base.
Chatham was back on top, 4-3.
Though the boys in blue would need no more runs to ensure victory in Tuesday's contest thanks to a scoreless two-inning effort by reliever Pat Light (Monmouth), Dane Phillips provided some unnecessary but always-appreciated insurance.
In the bottom of the seventh, with two of his teammates aboard, Phillips tomahawked a curveball from submarine lefty reliever Kenny Long (Illinois State) for a home run, making the score 7-3. The ball landed on the densely populated hill beyond right field, and was enthusiastically scooped up by a young fan.
The Oklahoma State Cowboy has been terrorizing pitchers in the CCBL for the last five games. In that span, he has collected 12 RBI and two home runs. His season batting average now sits at .315 and his on-base plus slugging percentage is .926.
Darrell Matthews (Cal) drove home Calbick in the bottom of the eighth, accounting for the game's final run.
Chatham 8, Orleans 3.
Chatham manager John Schiffner made sure to cover all the bases when explaining the recent success of his squad.
"Well, some of the breaks are going in our direction," said Schiffner. "We are making the other team make some mistakes."
Of course, the skipper was eager to credit the players in his own dugout.
"It was a solid pitching performance all the way around. Dominic was outstanding, Pat was outstanding, Dane has a huge hit, and Darrell follows that up with a big hit late. Just a good team effort."
The Anglers will make the trek to Wareham on Wednesday for a 7 p.m. game against the Gatemen.