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Anglers Battle Hawks in Second Matchup of Season

by George Barclay
Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Anglers Battle Hawks in Second Matchup of Season
Following their second rainout of the season, the Chatham Anglers (6-3) are back at Veterans Field to take on the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (1-9) on Tuesday night. Facing a team with the worst record in the league, the Anglers are eager to find themselves back in the win column.

"We're really happy just to be getting on the field," said assistant coach Derek Sullivan, who is now in his second year with the team. "There's nothing else you can do with the recent weather. If it's a little wet, it's no big deal. Let's play baseball."

Right-hander Michael Wagner (0-1, 0.00 ERA) (San Diego) will make the start for Chatham. Wagner dominated in his first start against Falmouth, allowing no earned runs in five innings and recording eight strikeouts. The recently converted starter leads an Angler staff with a 3.11 team ERA and will face a Harbor Hawk lineup batting .202 as a team.

"Michael's a very good pitcher, so we feel good every time he's on the mound," said Sullivan. "He's got great numbers coming off his college season and he's looked good in his first two outings."

The Harbor Hawks, who are coming off their first win of the season will send right-hander Scott Firth (0-1, 1.59 ERA) (Clemson) to the rubber. Firth was a victim of poor run support in his first start of the season against Harwich and gave up one run in five and two thirds innings. Firth fought through three walks and struck out six batters while giving up only three hits. The Illinois native has been one of Hyannis' most effective starters this season, second only to right hander David Garner (1-0, 0.00 ERA) (Michigan State), who pitched against Chatham the last time the two teams played, a game which the Anglers won 4-3 after a three-run home run in the top of the ninth inning by infielder Chad Pinder (Virginia Tech).

Chatham heads into its matchup against Hyannis with a new addition to the roster. Recently arrived from Omaha, infielder Pat Valaika (UCLA) was placed on the active roster as of Tuesday morning. In his sophomore season, Valaika hit .266 with 1 home run and 39 RBI. The versatile middle infielder helped lead UCLA to the College World Series where his team defeated Stony Brook 9-1 in the first round and was eliminated following a 4-1 loss to the Florida State Seminoles.

Heading into Tuesday's game, Chatham has a .226 team batting average. With just three walks on Sunday night against Cotuit, the Anglers will make a point to get back to working the counts and having lengthy at-bats against the Harbor Hawks. Chatham still leads the Cape League with 40 walks on the season.

"We have to get guys on base to score runs," said Sullivan. "We don't care how our guys get on base. If guys are seeing lots of pitches that's great, but if we get 15 hits, we'll take that too."

In addition to battling at the plate, Chatham will also focus on avoiding significant lapses in the field. In their last game against Cotuit, the Anglers committed four errors, the most costly of which blew open a 7-5 game in the top of the ninth inning.

"Mental errors are the plays that we are the most concerned about," said Sullivan. "Physical errors happen from time to time, but as coaches we get the most irritated when the mental errors happen. We had too many mental errors in the last game."

For live coverage of Tuesday's game, tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame show with broadcasters Brandon Liebhaber and Chris Fitzgerald at 6:40 p.m. at TRZ Teamline.