For the first time since June 18, the Chatham Anglers are back in the win column.
The Anglers finally ended their four-game losing streak with a 6-4 win at Lowell Park against the Cotuit Kettleers (7-4) on Monday night. For Coach John Schiffner, coming out with a victory was definitely a relief.
"I wasn't panicking, but I was getting a little nervous because losing can be contagious, and it can start to snowball," Schiffner said. "We came close last night but couldn't close it out. We came out tonight and got it done."
Chatham opened the scoring on an RBI-groundout from Brandon Sedell (Nova Southeastern) in the fourth inning, their first lead in 32 innings. The lead would not last long, as Cotuit struck back in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI suicide-squeeze bunt.
The Anglers displayed some power later in the game, as home runs for right-fielder Jimmy Pickens (Michigan State), who was a triple shy of the cycle, and catcher Connor Joe (San Diego) helped Chatham build a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the 7th inning.
photo by Chelsea Capwell/Chatham Anglers Andrew McGee (Monmouth) picked up his second win of the season.
Coming into the game, Chatham only had one total home run, which also came from Pickens.
"It is just how baseball works. We have been hitting the ball well, but everything seemed to be getting caught," Pickens said. "Tonight, the balls finally dropped in our favor, we got some home runs, and got back in a groove."
When they needed it the most, Chatham got another masterful performance from Andrew McGee (Monmouth), who only allowed one run and struck out eight in his seven innings of work.
"He is a workhorse," Pickens said. "In desperate times, you have to call on your ace. We needed a win, and he helped us get it."
For McGee, his success comes down to execution, and a new pitch.
"Coach (Matt) Gardner has really been working with me on developing a cutter," McGee said. "There is a now a scouting report on me, so hitters were sitting on my fastball a lot, and having that cutter really got me out of trouble."
Cotuit made it interesting in the eighth inning with two runs off of reliever Joe Goodman (High Point) to cut Chatham's lead to 4-3, but Jacob Dorris (Texas A&M Corpus Cristi) came in and shut down the threat.
The Anglers added two insurance runs in the ninth inning on a two-RBI single from Josh Eldridge (Old Dominion), which turned out to be the difference of the game as Cotuit would load the bases in the ninth inning.
"We got the lead-off guy on, took advantage of their pitcher's mistakes, and Josh (Eldridge) had a great hit to drive in some runs," Pickens said.
With one run already in, and the tying run at second base for Cotuit, Dorris struck out first-baseman Yale Rosen to end the game, and send the Anglers home with their first victory in five games.
The win was a retirement gift of sorts for Schiffner, as he finished up his final day of teaching high school earlier Monday after 36 years.
J.D Davis (Cal State Fullerton) made his first start for the Anglers, and collected his first hit of the season.
With the first quarter of the season over, and the Anglers sitting in first place of the Eastern Division, the team is feeling pretty good about the season, and the future.
"We play hard until the very end, we grind out games, and we take advantage of the little mistakes," Pickens said. "The team chemistry is really great with this team, we love playing with each other, and we all get along. It is a great team to be a part of."
On Tuesday, the Anglers travel to play against the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox. RHP Aaron Garza (Houston) will make his third start of the season. First pitch is at 5 p.m. Tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame Show at 4:40 p.m. for live coverage with broadcasters Brandon Liebhaber and Keith Zubrow at TRZ Teamline or call 1-800-846-4700, code 3841.