It was a battle of the two best teams in the Eastern Division Thursday night at Whitehouse Field. With sole possession of first place at stake, it was one that would include a pitching duel, and some late inning heroics.
The Anglers have had the benefit of two walk-off wins so far this season, but it was Harwich's Tanner English (South Carolina) who supplied the late inning magic against the Anglers. With one out in the bottom of the tenth inning, English ended the game in the with a towering home run to left field, sending Chatham home with the loss.
For Coach John Schiffner, being on the other end of a walk-off ending was definitely not as sweet.
"We've had a couple of those go our way, but its definitely not nice having it go the other way," Schiffner said. "It's never good to lose, but I thought we played a great game."
It was a true Cape League game, as the Cape Cod fog rolled in and encompassed Whitehouse Field for the majority of the game, and was a game where runs were at a premium.
The Angler bats were held silent by Harwich starter Johnathan Frebis, who no-hit the Anglers through five innings pitched before he was replaced.
Chatham starter Lukas Schiraldi (Texas) also held down the Harwich bats, throwing five innings, striking out four, and only allowing one run.
In his last two starts, Schiraldi has received no runs of support from the Chatham offense, but that doesn't phase him as a pitcher.
photo by Chelsea Capwell/Chatham Anglers The Anglers have only won one in their last seven games (1-5-1).
"It doesn't really affect me," Schiraldi said. "There will be a game where the offense will go off for a lot of runs, thats just how baseball works. Coach Schiffner always emphasizes keeping an even flow."
Since his struggles in his first start for the Anglers, his battery-mate, Brandon Sedell (Nova Southeastern) has seen great improvements from Schiraldi.
"Since his first start, the thing that has improved the most has been his command," Sedell said. "He had his control down tonight."
After Harwich went to the bullpen with a 1-0 lead heading into the sixth inning, the Anglers were finally able to muster a hit, when Connor Joe (San Diego) laced a two-out single with a man on first. With the help of two passed balls, Chatham was on the board, and the game was tied 1-1.
Chatham had multiple chances to pull ahead in the game, but failed to capitalize, stranding runners in scoring position in both the seventh and eighth inning.
The Angler bullpen kept the game tied with scoreless outings from UC Irvine counterparts Jimmy Litchfield and Mitch Merten.
For Coach Schiffner, the production from the bullpen this season has been a strongpoint of the team, and is encouraging for the future.
"Everyone threw well, and that is really all you can ask for as a coach," Schiffner said.
As the game progressed, it seemed like the teams couldn't separate from each other, and that it might go late into extra innings.
After one quick out in the 10th inning, Steve Marino (Williams College) gave up the shot from English that left-fielder Josh Eldridge could only watch fly out of the ballpark and into the night.
Coming into tonight, Marino had not allowed a run in 4.1 innings of relief, but he picked up the loss as Harwich walked away with the victory.
With this win, Harwich (9-4) padded their lead in the Eastern Division, and now sit 1.5 games ahead of the second-place Anglers (7-5-1).
After a loss like this, Schiffner believes that his team can rebound quite easily.
"All they have to do is come back out on Friday, and we will be fine," Schiffner said. "We have the talent, we just need to keep coming out and playing."
The Anglers will return home on to play the Y-D Red Sox on Friday, then will get another chance against Harwich on Saturday at Veterans Field.
Check out pictures and audio highlights from the game below.