Some rallies are just meant to be cut short. With the game called due to darkness after eight innings of play, the Chatham Anglers (6-4) fell to the Brewster Whitecaps (5-6) 6-4. For the second straight game, the Anglers have been unable to complete a comeback after falling behind in the early innings.
"We were flat again," said manager John Schiffner. "We just have a tendency to be flat. But, we had a good fifth inning and we got ourselves right back in the game. We were right there, so you can't be disappointed in that. Our guys showed a little fight in the dog."
James Leckenby (1-0, 0.00 ERA) (Washington St.) was credited with the win for the Whitecaps. The six-foot six righty threw four scoreless innings, conceding just two hits and recording seven strikeouts. While the Brewster bullpen almost blew Leckenby's lead, giving up four runs over four innings, Jake Kalish (1-1, 12.46 ERA) (George Mason) was able to neutralize the Anglers and earn his first save of the season by throwing a scoreless eighth inning.
Scott Frazier (1-1, 4.97 ERA) (Pepperdine) suffered the loss for the Anglers. Frazier gave up four runs on eight hits in two and a third innings and struck out one batter. Unable to consistently locate his curve ball, Frazier left his fastball out over the plate and the Whitecaps pounded it into the outfield.
Chatham's bullpen was able to contain Brewster's offense in the middle innings of the game with a gutsy performance from southpaw Louie Lechich (0-0, 2.08 ERA) (San Diego), who let in only one run in three and a third innings of relief and fanned four batters. In his second outing of the season, the multifaceted two-way player is proving himself just as capable on the rubber as he is in the batter's box.
"Tonight was a good hold out there for Louie," said Schiffner. "He kept us in the game and he looked great on the mound."
While Lechich's arm kept Chatham's hopes alive, right-hander Dace Kime (0-0, 14.73) (Louisville) was his own worst enemy in two innings of relief, putting the game out of reach for the Anglers. After retiring the side in the seventh inning, Kime could not locate his fastball in the eighth and walked in a run after loading the bases, giving the Whitecaps a 6-4 lead.
Although pitching was certainly a factor in the outcome, the real driving force behind Wednesday's game were the Whitecaps' bats, which peppered 14 hits around Stonybrook Field. Brewster's primary offensive surge came in the third inning, where the Whitecaps put up four runs against Chatham with two outs. First baseman Trevor Mitsui (Washington) began the barrage with a two-run single to right field and consecutive RBI doubles by left fielder Jason Monda (Washington St.) and third baseman Dan Olinger (Minnesota) knocked in the remaining two runs. In the fourth inning, Mitsui tacked on Brewster's last big hit of the night with an RBI single, giving him three RBI on the day and eight on the season.
At the plate, Chatham had another slow start and totaled just six hits on the night. Two of the Anglers' four runs on the night came from RBI walks drawn by third baseman Chad Pinder (Virginia Tech) and right fielder Dale Carey (Miami). Pinder also had the web gem of the game in the sixth inning, a play that saved a run. With a runner on third, Chatham's do-it-all third baseman made a knee-jerk grab with his glove on a high-chopping ground ball that bounced off the bag and fired a bullet to first base to get the inning-ending out.
"That was a great play," said Knapp. "It was so hard for me at first base to see whether or not Chad had the ball. But he got it and he made a great throw. That play was huge. It helped us stay in the game."
The other pair of Angler runs crossed home plate on a sacrifice fly hit to center field by first baseman Andrew Knapp (California) and a triple to right field by center fielder Adam Engel (Louisville). One of the Anglers' best hitters on Wednesday night, Knapp was able to break out of a recent slump and get on base, going 1 for 2 with a walk and an RBI.
"I feel like over the last couple of days, I haven't been putting together quality at-bats. Today I decided to change my approach and just hit the ball hard without worrying where it was going," said Knapp.
Despite the fact that the hits did not come in bunches for Chatham, the Anglers were able to draw five walks against Brewster, giving the team plenty of opportunities to tie the game, especially in the fifth inning when Chatham had the bases loaded with two outs.
"We did a good job of not swinging at pitches in the dirt and striking out as much as we could have," said Schiffner. "But, we just didn't get clutch hits. When we got a pitch to hit, we didn't seem to get the hit we wanted."
Coupled with the inconsistent offense, the weather had a say in the final score of the Anglers' game. With no lights at Stonybrook Field, the umpires ruled the field too dark to play on right before the start of the ninth inning and ended the game. Had Chatham continued playing, the middle of the team's batting order would have come to the plate.
"We've had many games called at fields with no lights," said Schiffner. "That's why every once in a while, you'll see a tie. There was no way we were going to get the bottom of the ninth in, so why play the top of the ninth. It was already getting dark before the ninth. We don't want anybody getting hurt."
Above all, Wednesday's game at Brewster demonstrated the 2012 Chatham Anglers' greatest weakness; themselves. Possessing a wealth of talent in the batter's box, on the mound and in the field, the Anglers are a better team than their 6-4 record this season has shown. Still, the team continues to fall behind in the early innings of games and manufacture runs in the face of multiple-run deficits.
"We need to get into the games more mentally," said Schiffner. "We're lacking a bit of a fire right now. The game is not meaning as much as it should at this point."
Chatham will have its first chance to get back on track on Thursday, June 28 against the Bourne Braves (2-8) at 6 p.m. For live coverage of Thursday's game, tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame show with broadcasters Brandon Liebhaber and Chris Fitzgerald at 5:40 p.m. at TRZ Teamline.