Small adjustments can yield tremendous results. On Thursday night, the Chatham Anglers (5-2) defeated the Bourne Braves (2-5) 9-3. With a season-high 12 hits, the Anglers played their best offensive game of the season.
"We were flat early and then we kicked it into gear," said manager John Schiffner. "I'm very proud of the guys. We need to focus more in the early innings of games, but you can't say enough about the hitting. We did a lot of great work in early batting practice today and our guys applied it to the game. They were troopers. It was unbelievable."
Tate Parrish (1-0, 0.00 ERA) (North Carolina) was the winning pitcher for the Anglers. Parrish tossed one and two thirds scoreless innings, giving up one hit, one walk and striking out two. Parrish was also helped by relievers Alex Powers (Southern New Hampshire) and Jamie Schultz (High Point) who gave up one run on two hits combined in two and a third innings. Right-hander Scott Frazier (1-0, 2.70 ERA) (Pepperdine) was given a no-decision. Frazier threw five innings, gave up two runs, walked two hitters and struck out four.
"Frazier struggled a little bit, but he gave us a chance to stay in the game," said Schiffner. "After we took Scott out, everybody from the bullpen just came in and did their job. It was very good to see."
Bourne's Ryan Donahue (0-1, 2.08 ERA) (La Salle) was the losing pitcher. Donahue threw one and a third innings, gave up an earned run on one hit and struck out two batters in relief of Jon Keller (Nebraska Lincoln), who received a no-decision. Although Donahue suffered the loss for Bourne, it was the back end of the Braves bullpen that allowed the six runs to score.
Yet, while the Braves eventually imploded down the stretch, Thursday night's game was not an easy one for Chatham. In the first inning, the Anglers went down 1-0 after left fielder Mike Ahmed (Holy Cross) crushed a solo home run to centerfield. Later on, the Braves were able to increase their lead to 2-0 with a sacrifice fly by third baseman Colin Moran (North Carolina) to left field with a runner on third base.
While Bourne was in total control in the first few innings, the Anglers took charge halfway through the game. In the fifth inning, Chatham tied the game after two one-run triples by centerfielder Adam Engel (Louisville) and third baseman Chad Pinder (Virginia Tech). Chatham tacked on another run in the bottom of the sixth when catcher Chad Morgan (Virginia Tech) reached first on a fielder's choice, scoring a runner from third base. The Anglers scored three more times in the seventh inning after first baseman Alex Calbick (Maine) reached first on a fielder's choice with a runner on third, and designated hitter Aaron Brown (Pepperdine) and shortstop Alex Chittenden (Louisville) notched two one-run singles. Chatham scored its final three runs in the bottom of the eighth after an RBI groundout by second baseman Mike Fransoso (Maine) and third baseman Chad Pinder (Virginia Tech) stroked an RBI double and eventually scored from second base on a passed ball.
"On Tuesday, our guys were waving at pitches that were away," said Schiffner. "Tonight we really started to hit pitches that were away. We concentrate so much in batting practice on hitting pitches on the outside and for that to come out in a game is like a teacher watching their students correctly use an application that they were taught in class."
Offensively, Chatham saw the most production from three of its best hitters. Centerfielder Adam Engel (Louisville) went 2 for 4 with an RBI, designated hitter Aaron Brown (Pepperdine) went 2 for 4 with an RBI and third baseman Chad Pinder (Virginia Tech) went 2 for 5 with 2 RBI. In addition, eight of the Anglers' nine starters tallied a hit in Thursday night's game.
"I thought tonight was a really good team win for us," said Pinder. "We put some good momentum together after coming back from an off-day."
Once again, Pinder displayed his opposite field power on Thursday night, with both of his hits going into right field for extra bases.
"I was just trying to see the ball deep," he said. "Today we worked a lot on driving the ball the opposite way. With the pitchers in this league and their velocity, you have to trust yourself and your hands in order to see the ball as long as possible."
Overall, Thursday's win represented a major stepping stone for this year's Chatham team. After enjoying the free day on Wednesday, the Anglers were able to return to practice and execute their coaching staff's offensive gameplan. While Chatham still has some work to do regarding strikeout prevention, the high-quality at-bats the Anglers had against Bourne display significant progress by a team whose batting order is steadily catching up to its solid starting rotation and bullpen.
"If our players continue to put the practice time in and get better, that's going to carry us this season," said Schiffner.
On Friday, June 22, the Anglers will take on the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox in a road game at 5 p.m. For live coverage of Friday's game, tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame show with broadcasters Brandon Liebhaber and Chris Fitzgerald at 4:40 p.m. at TRZ Teamline.