Chatham Rallies in Tenth for 6-5 Win Over Brewster
by George Barclay Saturday, June 30, 2012
Last week, UCLA shortstop Pat Valaika was playing in the College World Series. One week later, he became a walk-off hero at Veterans Field.
On Saturday night, the Chatham Anglers rallied from a 5-3 deficit in the bottom of the tenth inning to defeat the Brewster Whitecaps 6-5. Virginia Tech's Jake Joyce (1-0, 6.00 ERA) earned the win for Chatham while Oregon State's Dylan Davis (0-1, 15.43 ERA) suffered the loss for Brewster. In a wild game, the Anglers (8-5) had a 3-2 lead going into the ninth inning, but found themselves headed for extra innings.
"It was an outstanding win," said manager John Schiffner. "Hats off to Brewster for coming back. They chipped away and they didn't quit. We still have some things that we need to work on as a team, but we'll address them tomorrow. Right now, we're going to enjoy this great win."
While Saturday's game went ten innings, a 7:02 p.m. start and a quick set of early frames suggested another fast contest for the Anglers, who finished nine innings in just two hours and fourteen minutes on Friday night. However, both teams had other plans.
Brewster (5-9) scored the first run of the game in the top of the third inning after second baseman Kevin Williams (UCLA) hit an RBI double, sending home catcher Spencer Navin (Vanderbilt) from second base. Chatham immediately countered in the bottom of the third to take a 2-1 lead with two one-run singles by second baseman Mike Fransoso (Maine) and third baseman Alex Chittenden (Louisville), scoring left fielder Tom Bourdon (Boston College) from third base and catcher Chad Morgan (Virginia Tech) from second base. The Anglers gave themselves a much-needed insurance run in the bottom of the fifth inning, taking a 3-1 lead when designated hitter Andrew Knapp (California) ripped an RBI double to left field, plating center fielder Adam Engel (Louisville) from second base. Brewster would tack on another run in the top of the sixth inning when first baseman Ryon Healy (Oregon) hit an RBI double, scoring center fielder Aaron Judge (Fresno State) from second.
Despite the back and forth offense of the middle innings, the Anglers were poised for a 3-2 victory heading into the ninth inning. Stetson's Kurt Schluter (1-1, 2.81 ERA) threw six strong innings for Chatham, conceding two runs on five hits, striking out six batters and issuing two walks. The Florida native challenged Brewster's lineup with great command of his fastball and curveball.
"Schluter threw great again," said Schiffner. "He's really doing a great job for us."
Chatham also received some help from its middle relievers on Saturday, with southpaw Brian McIlhenny (Pepperdine) and right-hander Alex Powers (Southern New Hampshire) combining for two scoreless innings of relief and two strikeouts. Both McIlhenny and Powers have yet to allow an earned run this season.
"McIlhenny and Powers both did their jobs tonight," said Schiffner. "They put us in a position to win."
Just three outs away from a victory, Virginia Tech right-hander Jake Joyce came out of the bullpen looking for his fourth save of the season. Joyce quickly got himself into trouble, giving up a leadoff single to pinch hitter Jason Monda (Washington State). Brewster then put a runner on second after right fielder Jeff McNeil (Long Beach State) executed a sacrifice bunt. The next batter, Williams, tied the game with an RBI single to center field, scoring Monda from second base. Although Joyce eventually got out of the inning with a strikeout, the damage was done and Schluter's potential win was turned into a no-decision.
In extra innings, Joyce's difficult night on the hill continued. After Joyce gave up a leadoff walk to Judge, the center fielder advanced to second on a groundout by Healy. Then, after Joyce induced a pop up to record the second out of the inning, the stocky right-hander gave up a two-run home run Tanner Nivins (Stony Brook), giving Brewster a 5-3 lead.
"Jake was a little off tonight," said Schiffner. "He did not have his best stuff, but he kept us within striking distance."
Yet, all hope was not lost for Chatham. The Anglers put runners on first and second with no outs in the inning after Fransoso reached first on a dropped third strike and Engel reached on a walk. For the next batter, Schiffner elected to pinch hit Dante Flores (Southern California) for Chittenden and execute a sacrifice bunt. However, a passed ball caused by Oregon State's Dylan Davis allowed both runners to advance and threw the original plan out the window.
"The pitcher for Brewster was not throwing strikes, so Dante got to swing away," said Schiffner.
Flores made the most of his opportunity and knocked a two-run single into center field, knotting the game at five. The base hit was Flores' second hit of the summer.
"What a great at-bat for Dante," said Schiffner. "He hit the ball right where it was pitched. I'm really happy for him. He's been struggling a little bit. I hope that hit kicks things into gear for him."
For Flores, Saturday's base hit removed what had been a week of frustration at this dish.
"That hit was a big relief for me," said Flores. "It was nice to get that stress off of my shoulders. It showed me that I can do this. Hopefully there will be more to come."
Following Flores' single, Knapp reached first on a base-hit in the next at-bat to give Chatham runners on first and second with no outs. After pinch hitter Aaron Brown (Pepperdine) drew a walk to load the bases and first baseman Alex Calbick (Maine) grounded into a force play to home, the stage was set for UCLA shortstop Pat Valaika. With the bases juiced and five Brewster Whitecaps crowding the infield, Valaika hit a ground ball to third baseman Dan Olinger (Minnesota), who bobbled the ball for an error, allowing the winning run to score.
"I love it when a fifth infielder gets brought in," said Schiffner. "People think you're crazy, but I've done it before. Good call by John Altobelli. It almost worked. If Olinger doesn't make the error there, that would have been a close play at the plate. We'll take that win. We are not going to give that one back."
The Anglers will be back on the road on Sunday at 5 p.m. against the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox at Red Wilson Field. For live coverage of Sunday's game, tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame Show at 4:40 p.m. with broadcasters Chris Fitzgerald and Brandon Liebhaber at TRZ Teamline.