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Cotuit Sneaks Past Chatham 3-2

by George Barclay
Monday, July 30, 2012

Cotuit Sneaks Past Chatham 3-2
Chatham came out on the losing end of a pitching exhibition on Monday evening, falling 3-2 to the Cotuit Kettleers. Rallying from a 2-1 deficit in the eighth inning, the Anglers (17-19-1) almost ended the nine-game winning streak of the Kettleers (24-12), who have the best record in the Cape League.

"We played our butts off," said manager John Schiffner. "Give credit to Cotuit. There's a reason why they've won 16 of 18. We played great and we pitched great. It was a good ball game."

Box Score

Cotuit 3, Chatham 2

Western Carolina's Jordan Smith (2-3, 5.68 ERA) earned the win for Cotuit, allowing one run in three and a third innings of relief. Smith was the third Kettleer pitcher on Monday, coming into the game in the sixth inning. Florida gulf Coast's Brandon Bixler (0-0, 2.76 ERA) started the game and earned a no-decision, allowing one earned run on two hits in four and two thirds innings and striking out eight batters. Weatherford's Jacob Stone (3-1, 3.86 ERA) was the first Cotuit pitcher to leave the bullpen, walking two in a scoreless inning of work.

Franklin Pierce's Ryan Thompson (1-2, 2.60 ERA) suffered the loss for the Anglers, surrendering one earned run on one hit in a third of an inning. With Monday being the Alberta native's turn for a bullpen session, Schiffner took advantage of the situation and put the junior into the game.

"It was his (Thompson's) bullpen day, so it was OK for him to throw," said Schiffner. "He'll start later on in the week, so it was a perfect time for him to come in. Unfortunately, he got the loss today."

In addition to Thompson, Chatham used Pepperdine's Aaron Brown (1-0, 2.40 ERA), UC Irvine's Jimmy Litchfield (0-2, 5.12 ERA) and Virginia Tech's Jake Joyce (2-0, 2.70 ERA). His first start of the summer, Brown allowed two runs on three hits in five innings and fanned five batters and received a no decision. Litchfield struck out three batters in two and two thirds innings and Joyce walked two in a third of an inning.

"Everybody threw well," said Schiffner. "I was very proud of the guys. I told them that they looked the best team in the league right in the eye. If they can execute better, they have a chance to do something in the playoffs."

With strong pitching from both teams, offense was at a minimum on Monday. Cotuit jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning after Maryland's Tim Kiene spanked a two-out double off the top of the right field fence to plate two runners. In the top of the fifth, the Anglers struck back when Maine's Alex Calbick connected for a solo home run deep into the trees in right field, breaking up what was a perfect game by the Kettleers' Bixler.

"Big bomb," said a smiling Schiffner. "That lefty on Cotuit was tough. He just ran out of gas. We were glad to see him (Bixler) get out of the game. Alex just nailed that one."

Chatham would rally once more in the top of the eighth inning when Louisville's Adam Engel doubled to start the frame. Two batters later, the speedy center fielder was driven home on a one-out single by California's Andrew Knapp, tying the score at two. The team's most consistent hitter, Knapp now has 20 RBI on the season.

"That was great," said Schiffner. "That's what Andrew has been doing all year long. Andrew's been getting clutch RBIs for us the whole season. I was glad to see Adam coming around too."

Despite the rally, the Kettleers would have the final word, scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Michigan's Patrick Biondi, who went 2 for 3 with two runs scored, led off the inning with a single. After Vanderbilt's Tony Kemp was hit by a pitch and Chatham's Thompson was replaced by Joyce on the mound, Cotuit was able to get runners on second and third after a well-executed sacrifice bunt by Princeton's Mike Ford. Deciding to try and get the force out at home, Joyce intentionally walked Kiene to load the bases. However, the strategy backfired as Joyce threw four straight balls to San Jose State's Jacob Valdez, walking in the winning run.

"Give Biondi credit," said Schiffner. "First pitch of the inning, he whacks a base hit. He put us on our heels."

A familiar foe to the Anglers, execution at the plate was at the heart of Monday's loss. At the dish, Chatham racked up six hits and stranded seven men on the base paths.

"What is really haunting us right now is that we're not executing," said Schiffner. "We couldn't get some bunts down. We need to be more offensive."

Yet, as frustrating as the loss was for Schiffner, he has not lost his faith in his team.

"I was proud of the kids tonight," he said. "I love coaching these kids."

The Anglers will be back on the road on Tuesday as the team journeys to Red Wilson Field to face the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (20-17) at 5 p.m.

"Another tough game," said Schiffner. "There's no easy ones in the Cape Cod League. We've got to rally from this loss and come back again."

Tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame Show at 4:40 p.m. for live coverage with broadcasters Chris Fitzgerald and Brandon Liebhaber at TRZ Teamline or call 1-800-846-4700, code 3841.

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