Louisville's Adam Engel
is accustomed to flying around the bases after a hit. With the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the fifth, he only had to trot as he watched his line drive sail just inside the right field foul pole for a grand slam. A passionate player, Engel was ecstatic as he rounded the bases and brought his team one step closer to the postseason.
"It felt great," said Engel. "I always get teased about not having any power by my teammates. I was kind of thinking that the world was going to end after that at-bat. I worked a lot this summer on going to the opposite field and I got pretty comfortable with it. They were pitching me away tonight, so I just made an adjustment and went with it."
On Sunday night, the Anglers clinched a playoff berth win a 6-4 win over the Harwich Mariners, giving the team its first playoff season since 2007. In what was a roller-coaster ride at Veterans Field, Chatham was able to hold on after nearly giving up a 6-0 lead.
Box Score Chatham 6, Harwich 4
"I'm very happy," said manager John Schiffner
. "I'm happy for the guys, I'm happy for the staff, I wish Pat and Sully were here to enjoy this with us. It was a good win against a good team. And then to make it count, we didn't back in."
Pepperdine's Aaron Brown
(2-0, 1.69 ERA) earned the win for Chatham (19-21-2), tossing six and a third innings and striking out 10 batters. Possessing total command of the strike zone, Brown gave up just one hit and shut down a Harwich lineup stacked with power-hitters.
"Tonight was just a great pitching performance by Aaron Brown," said Schiffner. "There's not much more to say."
After Brown left the game, Chatham received a jekyll and hyde performance from its bullpen. Louisville's Dace Kime
(0-0, 5.24 ERA) was touched up for three earned runs in two thirds of an inning and High Point's Jaime Schultz
(2-0, 2.95 ERA) tossed two scoreless innings of relief and recorded five strikeouts to get his first save of the season.
"Dace was just a little shaky, but Jaime came in and slammed the door shut," said Schiffner. "Jaime came in and did the job. He got three up, three down in the ninth and big strikeouts with men on base in the eighth. That's huge for him."
Virginia Tech's Eddie Campbell
(3-2, 4.50 ERA) suffered the loss for the Mariners (25-16-1), giving up four earned runs on five hits in five innings of work. Despite getting seven strikeouts on the night, Campbell struggled with his command from the third inning on and could not shut down a Chatham team that he had faced two other times this season. The Mariner bullpen had better luck against the Anglers and allowed four hits in three scoreless innings.
With Brewster looming in the background, Chatham wasted little time on Sunday securing its postseason spot and jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the third inning. After San Diego's Louie Lechich
singled and Michigan State's John Martinez
reached second following a fielder's choice and an error, the stage was set. In his first at-bat of the summer, newly acquired Boston College second baseman John Hennessy
hit an RBI single to right field to put the Anglers up 1-0.
"What a great recruiter I am," joked Schiffner, who signed Hennessy on Sunday morning for his final roster move of the season. "Good for him. That's what the Cape League is all about, little stories like that. That's fantastic."
Miami's Dale Carey
provided the Chatham's second run of the inning with an RBI single to right field. Going 3 for 5 on the night, Carey was the team's most consistent hitter on Sunday and is now back on track after going hitless in his last three games.
Far from satisfied with their lead, the Anglers would add four more runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Following two quick outs from Campbell, Chatham loaded the bases after an infield single by Carey, a walk drawn by UCLA's Pat Valaika
and a fielder's choice that put California's Andrew Knapp
on first. In the next at-bat, Louisville's Adam Engel
sent Veterans Field into a frenzy, driving a fastball onto the right field porch for a grand slam, making the game 6-0.
"Adam got one and he insided it out for a grand slam," said Schiffner. "How about that' I don't know what else to say."
On the other side of the field, Harwich struggled at the plate with 17 strikeouts but was efficient in its run production, tallying four runs on four hits. All of the Mariners' runs came in the eighth inning, the first on a ground rule double by Samford's Phil Ervin
and the remaining three on a three-run home run by Kentucky's Matt Reida
that clanked off the right field foul pole. A team that can drive in runs in the blink of an eye, Harwich left five men on base and had no player get more than one hit.
Overall, Sunday was an enormous sigh of relief for Schiffner, who finally has a team back in the playoffs for the first time in five years.
"I love it," he said after being freshly soaked by a water cooler. "I'm happy for the Chatham Athletic Association, the kids and everyone involved with this team. It was really nice. Let's go. Let's see what we can do."
No longer having to worry about making the playoffs, Chatham will face the Orleans Firebirds (22-20) at Eldredge Park on Monday at 7 p.m. For live coverage of Monday's game, tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame Show at 6:40 p.m. with broadcasters Chris Fitzgerald and Brandon Liebhaber at TRZ Teamline
or call 1-800-846-4700, code 3841.