CHATHAM- Every good story has an ending. On Saturday night, Chatham's season came to a close as the Anglers lost 7-4 to the Y-D Red Sox, falling 2-0 in a three-game series. In the team's first taste of postseason play since 2009, Chatham fought hard but could not hold down one of the Cape League's best all-around teams.
"I thought we gave them (Y-D) a hell of a battle," said manager John Schiffner
. "We didn't back down. I think we got beat by a better team. That's about as much as I can say. We battled them, we had our opportunities and they just out-pitched us a little bit when they had to. Give a hat's off to Y-D, but I'm very proud of these guys and the way they battled against a very good team."
Box Score Y-D 7, Chatham 4
Marshall's Aaron Blair
(1-0, 1.80 ERA) earned the win for the Red Sox, allowing one earned run on three hits in five innings and striking out six batters. The ace of the Y-D staff fought through five walks against a Chatham team that scored three runs in the first two innings. The Red Sox also received strong contributions from Florida Gulf Coast's Rick Knapp
(0-0, 3.00 ERA), who gave up one earned run on two hits and struck out five in three innings of relief and Hofstra's Bryan Verbitsky
(0-0, 0.00 ERA), who struck out two in a scoreless ninth to earn the save.
Maine's Tommy Lawrence
(0-1, 9.00 ERA) suffered the loss for Chatham, allowing five earned runs on eight hits in five innings of work and walking four. Despite not having his usual command, the West Haven, CT native struck out five batters and kept his team within striking distance. UC Irvine's Jimmy Litchfield
(0-0, 3.00 ERA) and Louisville's Dace Kime
(0-0, 9.00 ERA) also appeared on the hill for the Anglers. Litchfield surrendered one earned run on three hits in three innings of work and Kime gave up one earned run on one hit in one inning.
In a similar fashion to Game 1, eight of the contest's 11 runs were scored in the first five innings.
"It's two good baseball teams playing one another," said Schiffner. "I think we're all pretty good. That's gonna happen."
A series in which the away team scored first in both games, Y-D jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the opening frame when Washington's Robert Pehl
hit an RBI ground out to short and Mercyhurst's Zak Blair
poked an RBI single. In the bottom of the frame, Chatham countered when Louisville's Adam Engel
ripped a two-run double with two outs to tie the score. Engel finished the game 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and led the Anglers in hits.
Coming through once again, San Diego's Louie Lechich
gave Chatham its only lead of the game in the bottom of the second with a solo home run to straightaway center field. After hitting no home runs in 66 at-bats, Lechich hit one longball in both of the team's postseason games this summer.
"How about that'" said a smiling Schiffner. "Good for him. He (Lechich) came on for us. That's what we wanted. We asked for some guys to step up, and he did."
Yet, while the Anglers were able to get a lead, the Red Sox came storming back and outscored Chatham 5-1 in the final seven innings.
"They are a very good team," said Schiffner. "One through nine, they hit really well. Their pitching staff has a great deal of depth. They are just pretty good. What a hell of a battle it is going to be between them and whoever they play next."
Y-D began chipping away in the top of the fourth inning when Stanford's Alex Blandino
plated a run with a sacrifice bunt. In the next inning, Nova Southeastern's Carlos Asuaje
belted a two-run home run to center to give the Red Sox a 5-3 lead. Still, the day was not yet finished for the Anglers, who scored their final run in the eighth when Engel doubled to left, advanced on a ground out and scored on a wild pitch.
"That's Adam," said Schiffner. "He's one of our guys. He has been one of our guys all year long. That's what we expect and that's what he does best."
With a 5-4 lead going into the final frame, Y-D scored two runs to take total control. After Florida's Justin Shafer
hit a ground rule double to left field and Purdue's Sean McHugh
grounded out, Texas State's Morgan Mickan
hammered an RBI double to center field to make the score 6-4. The Red Sox last run came when Asuaje hit an RBI ground out to short, allowing Mickan to score on a close play at the plate. A thorn in the side for the A's the entire game, Asuaje went 4 for 5 with 3 RBI.
With the victory, Y-D advances to the East Division Championship against the Orleans Firebirds, which will begin on Sunday at 4 p.m. at Red Wilson Field.
Following the game, Schiffner held his longest post-game meeting of the summer with his players and coaching staff, taking the time to thank them all for their hard work and dedication. Holding back tears, the skipper told his team that he enjoyed every single day he spent with them and all the fun that was had along the way.
"I'll always remember them," he said. "They were a TEAM. They were a good team. They pulled for one another. They were so much of a pleasure to be around."