On the strength of Louie Lechich
's first win of the summer and Dace Kime
's first save, the Chatham Anglers defeated the Falmouth Commodores, 5-0, Thursday at Veterans Field. Chatham's first staff shutout since June 18 vs. Brewster snapped a three-game losing skid and opened the second half of the season with a victory against the West Division leaders. Chatham's first inning 2-0 lead was padded by a solo home run from shortstop Pat Valaika
(1) and a two-run blast from catcher Andrew Knapp
(4) who had two of Chatham's seven hits.
Box Score Game 23: Chatham 5, Falmouth 0
Making his second start of the summer and fifth appearance overall, Lechich alternated between 1-2-3 innings and bases-loaded pressure spots over five scoreless. "Gutsy," John Schiffner
said of Lechich's outing. "Very gutsy performance. Really impressive."
A tag-and-throw double play from Chad Pinder
at third base helped Lechich escape second inning trouble, and a looking strikeout stranded three Commodores on base in the fourth. "A couple pretty high stress innings there," Lechich said. "But I always kind of prided myself on getting into those and then being able to get out of them."
The San Diego lefty, who finished with seven strikeouts while surrendering just one hit and walking four, offered credit to batterymate Andrew Knapp of the Cal Bears. "Knapp and I have thrown together quite a bit over the last year and a half," Lechich said. "I'm always comfortable with him back there."
"We were working well together," Knapp said of his rhythm with Lechich. "He did a really good job. He was having a little trouble with his slider early, but we were talking about it in the dugout. He was telling me what he wanted to work on and he did it. He did a really good job of getting ahead and throwing that first pitch strike and making hitters chase pitches out of the strike zone."
"He's a character," Schiffner said of Lechich. "Very little bothers Lou when he's pitching. He did a really good job. The ball came out of his hand easy. He didn't locate like he has, but guess what, he got the job done."
Andrew Knapp (California) and Dace Kime (Louisville) meet on mound.
As Lechich maneuvered through the early innings, Pinder ignited Chatham's offense with a first-inning single to right, his 19th hit of the summer. Knapp walked and first baseman Alex Calbick
reached on an infield single. With Valaika at the plate, a wild pitch from Falmouth starter Trey Masek plated Pinder and moments later Valaika picked up his eighth RBI of the summer on a groundout to second.
"We were talking with Coach [Pat] McGee
about taking first pitches and seeing strikes," Knapp said. "We worked on that today and it helped out. We had a couple walks early and some clutch hitting."
Valaika picked up his second RBI of the game in the bottom of the fourth, leading off the inning with a solo home run, his first of the summer. "Pat works really hard," Knapp said of his Pac-12 compadre. "I think everyone out here has been working really hard and it's paying off. What Coach McGee has been telling us has been getting through and we're definitely growing as players. If you go from the first quarter of the season to now, you can definitely see a change in the way people are taking their at bats."
Knapp's own long ball padded Chatham's lead in the fifth. After a single from Dante Flores
to start the inning, Knapp jolted his fourth homer of the season halfway up the hill in right field to put Chatham ahead 5-0. The bomb was the switch hitter's team-leading fourth home run of the summer and 24th hit. The sophomore has 13 RBIs for the summer, second most on the team.
"Andrew's outstanding," Schiffner said. "He calls his own game, settles things down, and gets the big hit. It's just nice to have him around. He's a complete player. He's one of the best players in the league, plain and simple."
Louisville's Dace Kime
came out of the bullpen to start the sixth and picked up where Lechich left off, allowing only one base runner in four scoreless innings. "His strongest outing of the summer, no question," Schiffner said of Kime's first Cape League save.
Chatham improves to 12-11 on the season and faces division-leading Harwich at Whitehouse Field Friday at 7 p.m. For live coverage, tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame Show at 6:40 p.m. with broadcasters Chris Fitzgerald and Brandon Liebhaber at TRZ Teamline