Chatham finished the regular season at the .500 mark on Tuesday night with a 7-2 victory over the Orleans Firebirds. For the second straight night, the Anglers (21-21-2) got the best of their rivals and turned in another strong performance both on the mound and at the plate. Since a 12-2 loss to Wareham on August 4, Chatham has won three games in a row.
"We're just playing really nice baseball right now," said manager John Schiffner
. "It's a coach's dream come true. They are clicking on all cylinders right now."
Box Score Chatham 7, Orleans 2
Louisville's Dace Kime
(1-0, 4.97 ERA) earned his first win of the season for the Anglers, allowing one earned run in three innings of relief and striking out four batters. Kime came into the game in the fourth inning after San Diego's Louie Lechich
(1-2, 4.55 ERA) gave up one earned run on three hits and struck out four batters in three innings of work. The Anglers also saw action from North Carolina's Tate Parrish
(1-3, 2.46 ERA), who struck out two batters in two scoreless innings and High Point's Jaime Schultz
(2-0, 2.82 ERA), who struck out two batters in a scoreless ninth inning.
"Louie went out there and battled, battled, battled to keep us in the ball game," said Schiffner. "And the rest of the staff just came through again. Dace did a nice job, Tate did a nice job and Jaime shut the door. It's everything a coach wants."
Dartmouth's Kyle Hunter
(0-2, 6.18 ERA) suffered the loss for the Firebirds (22-21), allowing five earned runs on 10 hits in five innings of work. Once again, the Firebirds received another standout effort from their bullpen, who allowed just two hits in three scoreless innings.
While Chatham's arms clocked in another tremendous pitching display, the Anglers' bats made plenty of noise on Tuesday night, tallying 12 hits to the delight of a crowd of 2,762. The Anglers struck early for the second straight game on a two-run home run from California's Andrew Knapp
(California), who went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI.
The production of Knapp, who just received the Willard Nicholas Most Outstanding Player Award, came as the slightest of surprises to Schiffner.
"What a shocker," he jested. "He's just on fire. He's been our guy. He has stepped up and done a phenomenal job as a leader and as a player. He's just done a great job."
Chatham added two more runs in the following frame when Maine's Alex Calbick
pounded a solo home run to right field and Boston College's John Hennessy
stroked an RBI single. Miami's Dale Carey
joined the party in the fourth inning with a sacrifice fly to left field and Calbick came back for seconds in the fifth with a two-run double to deep center field.
"I think we've got some momentum," said Maine's Mike Fransoso
, who went 3 for 4 with a run scored. "Everyone's playing well right now, which is good. Hopefully we can keep things going, keep on track and get a good result."
With the three hits, Fransoso raised his season average to .268. One of the hardest workers on the team, the reliable middle infielder has recorded a hit in eight of his last nine games.
"I'm just staying relaxed and trying to stay in the zone," he said. "I've been trying to use the whole field and stay short to the ball. I've also been trying to see pitches up and just keep working in my at-bats."
For Orleans, the Firebirds totaled six hits and were carried by Vanderbilt's Conrad Gregor
, who went 2 for 3 with a solo home run in the third inning. Orleans' other run on Tuesday came from a solo home run by Maryland's Michael Montville
in the sixth. With only 21 players on their active roster due to injuries, the Firebirds face an uphill battle heading into the playoffs.
With the victory, the Anglers have eclipsed the Firebirds for third place in the East Division due to a 4-2 edge in the season series between the two teams. Following an off-day on Wednesday, Chatham's postseason will begin in a three-game series against the Y-D Red Sox on Thursday at 4 p.m. The Anglers will travel to Red Wilson Field to take on one of the Cape League's best all-around teams. In its last official playoff series in 2007, Chatham also faced the Red Sox.
"They are a good team," said Schiffner. "They are probably playing as well as anybody right now. They can swing it, they pitch well, they play good defense and they can run. We've got our hands full but we're looking forward to the challenge."
For live coverage of Thursday's game, tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame Show at 3:30 p.m. with broadcasters Chris Fitzgerald and Brandon Liebhaber at TRZ Teamline
or call 1-800-846-4700, code 3841. Ten minutes longer than usual, Thursday's pregame show will be a special one, with interviews of both managers and a Catch of the Day segment with a player from each team.