The big hits just keep on coming. Following a victory against Bourne on Thursday night, the Chatham Anglers (6-2) defeated the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (4-4) 9-2 on Friday, June 22. For the second straight game, the Anglers have scored nine runs. With Friday's win, Chatham currently occupies second place in the Eastern Division behind the Orleans Firebirds (7-1).
"It was a pretty good baseball game," said manager John Schiffner. "The guys did a great job in all areas of the game."
Right-hander Kurt Schluter (1-1, 2.70 ERA) (Stetson) was the winning pitcher for the Anglers. Schluter conceded two runs, six hits and struck out one batter in five innings of work. The Angler bullpen was also highly effective on Friday, giving up only three hits in four scoreless innings. Southpaw Jimmy Litchfield (UC Irvine), right-hander Tommy Lawrence (Maine) and right-hander Jake Joyce (Virginia Tech) all had excellent command of their pitches and shut the door on a well-stocked Red Sox lineup.
"The pitching was outstanding tonight," said Schiffner. "Schluter pitched well enough to get a win and the bullpen guys did their job once again."
Tyler Smith (0-1, 10.80 ERA) (Rider) suffered the loss for the Red Sox. The lefty Smith allowed two runs on two hits and recorded one strikeout in two thirds of an inning of relief. Right-hander Rick Knapp (0-0. 0.90 ERA) (Florida Gulf Coast) was given a no-decision after throwing five innings, giving up three hits, walking two batters and striking out four. Both of the runs Chatham scored during Knapp's outing were unearned. Knapp received little help from the Yarmouth-Dennis bullpen, which allowed seven earned runs by the end of the night.
Although the Anglers were able to handily beat the Red Sox on Friday evening, the game was hotly contested through the first six innings. Chatham struck first in the opening inning when catcher Andrew Knapp (California) grounded out to second base, scoring center fielder Adam Engel (Louisville) from third base. Engel reached first on an error, stole second and got to third on a ground out.
The Red Sox immediately responded in the bottom of the first when first baseman Sam Travis (Indiana) and left fielder Sean Dwyer (Florida Gulf Coast) hit a pair of RBI singles scoring runners from second base, putting the Red Sox up 2-1. Chatham tied the game at two in the third inning when Knapp hit an RBI line drive to left field that got by Yarmouth-Dennis for an error, scoring third baseman Chad Pinder (Virginia Tech) from third base.
The Anglers began their offensive explosion in the top of the sixth inning when designated hitter John Martinez (Michigan State) reached first on a hit-by-pitch and right fielder Dale Carey (Miami) belted a two-run home run to left field, hitting the trees up beyond the fence at Red Wilson Field. While Carey has taken some time to get comfortable in the wooden bat league, the wiry outfielder has come on of late and benefited from some extra batting practice, going 2 for 5 on Friday with 2 RBI.
"I've been working on getting my feel back at the plate as well as my timing," he said. "I've also been working hard to adjust to the high level of pitching."
In addition to hitting a crucial home run, Carey also prevented one in the fourth inning with a sensational display of athleticism, leaping up over the top of the right field fence and getting his glove in front of a ball that appeared destined to leave Red Wilson Field.
"Dale made a great play defensively," said Schiffner. "He kept that ball in the ball park. Yarmouth-Dennis didn't get that run. That could have been a huge run for them."
Chatham crossed the plate again in the seventh inning when Pinder scored from third base on a balk. The Anglers scored two more runs in the eighth after Engel drew a walk with the bases loaded and Pinder hit an RBI grounder that got by the Red Sox for another error. Chatham's final two runs on the night came in the ninth inning when Martinez reached first base on another walk and left fielder Aaron Brown (Pepperdine) hit a two-run home run to left field.
Despite the fact that the Anglers totaled seven hits on the night against the Red Sox, Chatham was highly efficient offensively. Of the eight games the Anglers have played this season, Friday marked the team's best run-to-hit ratio so far, with two more runs than hits. Additionally, Friday's game was notable for the Anglers because the majority of the run production came from the bottom of the lineup with Brown and Carey tallying two RBI apiece.
Continuing a recent trend, Chatham continues to flourish on the defensive end of the diamond. In addition to Carey's leap, the Anglers had a slew of outstanding plays on Friday including a running catch in deep centerfield in the third by Engel, a great throw off a dive in the sixth by Pinder and an excellent stab by second baseman Dante Flores (Southern California) in the seventh, who also notched his first hit of the summer with a double in the sixth.
"Playing great defense keeps runners off the base paths," said Schiffner. "It allows your pitchers not to worry about throwing strikeouts all the time and gives them the confidence to pitch to contact with the knowledge that their defense is there to support them."
Yet, even with the ample offense and fantastic pitching, Schiffner is the most impressed with the collective performance of his team and their chemistry as a group.
"This start to the season is fun. It's a lot of fun right now," he said. "Lots of different guys are stepping up big time and they're doing it together."
On Saturday evening, Chatham will continue its two game road trip against the Bourne Braves at 6 p.m. For live coverage of Saturday's game, Broadcasters Chris Fitzgerald and Brandon Liebhaber will provide coverage starting at 5:40 p.m. with the Anglers Extra Pregame Show. Listen live at TRZ Teamline or call 1-800-846-4700, code 3841.