Cape Cod Baseball League action returned Saturday night in Chatham, where the Anglers followed up a two-game All-Star break with an 8-6 loss to the Wareham Gatemen. The marathon game lasted for 3 hours and 24 minutes.
It was a run-scoring bonanza at Veterans Field. Runs came home in every inning except the third, seventh, and ninth. The Anglers did get the potential tying run to the plate in the bottom of the last frame, but a double play ended any thought of a comeback
Chatham's Chris Munnelly (UNC) was saddled with the loss, going four innings and giving up five runs on four hits, three walks, and four strikeouts.
All five of his runs came in the disastrous second inning. Munnelly was victimized by a bases-loaded infield hit, followed by a pair of two-RBI singles. The inning ended with Wareham in the lead 5-1.
The Anglers' first run had come in inning number one. Dane Phillips (OK State) and Richie Shaffer (Clemson) reached on back-to-back singles. With two on and two out, righty-batting Joe Sever (Pepperdine) poked an opposite field double down the first base line, good for his 18th RBI of the season.
John Gianis (NC State) has enjoyed recent success at the plate after struggling for the majority of his abbreviated season for Chatham. He picked up two RBI in the bottom of the fourth when he turned on a pitch and crushed it over the fence in right field. That made the score 5-3 in favor of Wareham.
A baseball game does not last for nearly three and a half hours without a healthy helping of pitching changes, and the Gatemen obliged by sending six different pitchers to the mound over nine innings.
After surrendering the homer to Gianis and subsequently putting two runners on base in the fourth, Joe Flynn's (Franklin Pierce) night was over after only two-thirds of an inning of work. In relief came right-handed David Fischer (UConn) to face perhaps the hottest hitter in the CCBL, Dane Phillips.
The Cowboy from OSU sent a screaming grounder to the hole at shortstop, which was too hot to handle for L.J. Mazzilli (UConn). The result: another hit and another RBI for Phillips.
More damage could have been done in the inning but Richie Shaffer was rung up when he simultaneously ducked and swung on a third strike delivery from Fischer. Chatham had stranded three runners and trailed by a score of 5-4 after four innings.
Harry Marino (Williams) came in to relieve Munnelly in the top of the fifth inning. The lefty collected two Ks thanks to a filthy curveball, but caused problems for himself when he issued consecutive free passes. After a double steal put runners on third and second, Max Muncy (Baylor) made Marino pay with a hit into left field.
Had the throw from Darrell Matthews (Cal) been allowed to go all the way through to the plate, it looked like Robert Refsnyder (Arizona) would have been toast. Instead, the relay was cut off in a failed attempt to beat Muncy to the bag at second.
Wareham 7, Chatham 4.
In a game where the Gatemen only managed seven hits, one may find it strange that eight runs crossed the plate. The key to solving this puzzle is walks, and a lot of them. Chatham pitchers struggled to find the strike zone all night, ultimately surrendering nine base on balls.
Trae Davis (Baylor) was one of the main offenders. Pitching in the top of the sixth, Davis loaded the bases with walks. A wild pitch scored Wareham's eighth run of the ballgame. Davis got himself out of the jam by stabbing a liner off the bat of Muncy and throwing to first base to double up the bewildered base runner, ending the inning.
The final two runs were driven home on a Dane Phillips triple in the eighth inning. Once again, Phillips was the key to the Anglers' offense, reaching base in all four at bats (three hits and a walk), collecting three RBI, and a run scored. It was his fourth three-hit game of the season.
To put Phillips' total production at the plate into perspective, it is necessary to view his full body of work in the 2011 CCBL season. His .333 batting average puts him only 9 points behind the league leader, Bourne's Travis Jankowski (Stony Brook). And he is the CCBL's second most prolific run producer with 27 RBI (Cotuit's Tyler Roache (Georgia Southern) has 28).
Chatham's Mr. Everything is a baseball player, not just a hitter. Phillips was the catcher in last week's All-Star Game, and on Saturday night against Wareham, he showed off the arm strength and accuracy inherent in all good catching prospects.
Playing right field for the Anglers (put a check next to 'can play multiple positions'), Phillips wowed the late-arriving yet impressively large Veterans Field crowd when he hosed down a runner at the plate. Refsnyder attempted to go from first to home on a double by Johnny Field (Arizona) to right.
Phillips had other ideas. He put the throw right on the money, allowing Chatham catcher J.T. Watkins (West Point) to slap the tag on the would-be ninth Wareham run, ending the top of the ninth inning.
Though the Anglers sent the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, a 4-6-3 double play cleared the bases. Gianis flied out to end the game. Daniel Feehan (UConn) earned the save.
Chatham travels to Harwich for a 5:30 p.m. start on Sunday.