The Chatham Anglers (12-6-1) dispatched of the struggling Wareham (3-16) in front of another packed house at Veterans Field on Friday Night. Chatham scored early and often, defeating the Gatemen 8-2.
The Anglers offense has exploded for 15 runs in the past two games, and will look to keep the production going as they travel to Whitehouse Field to take on the division rival Harwich Mariners (11-8) in a mid-season battle for first place.
Chatham currently resides in first-place in the Eastern Division, 1.5 games ahead of the second-place Mariners, and three games ahead of the fourth-place Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (9-9-1). In the Cape League, the top four teams in each division make the playoffs.
For Manager John Schiffner
, the standings aren't something he worries about.
"It would be great to win our division, but all that really matters is making the playoffs," Schiffner said. "The Cape League playoffs are special."
Tonight's game will be one of nine nationally-televised Cape League games that will be featured on Fox College Sports
The last time the Anglers made the trip to Whitehouse Field, they lost in discouraging fashion, as the Mariners beat Chatham in walk-off fashion in the tenth inning on June 27. The Anglers got a small form of revenge on June 29 at Veterans Field, dispatching of the Mariners 8-4.
Tonight's pitching matchup will be a rematch of the last meeting between these two teams, as Matthew Gage
(Siena) will start for Chatham opposite Keaton Haack (Alabama), who will get the start for Harwich.
In the last meeting, Gage picked up the win, surrendering only two earned runs and striking out four in five innings pitched. Haack was dealt the loss, giving up five runs, only one of them earned, over four innings pitched.
photo by Graham Harboe/Chatham Anglers
Matt Gage (Siena) will be on the mound
for Chatham against Harwich on Saturday
On the season, Haack has an 0-1 record despite holding an impressive 1.92 ERA in 9.1 innings pitched. For Alabama in 2013, Haack had a 3.44 ERA in 21 appearances for the Crimson Tide, holding opposing batters to a .193 average in 34 innings pitched.
Outfielders Derek Fisher (Virginia) and Aaron Barbosa (Northeastern) continue to lead the Mariner offense. Fisher leads the team in hitting with a .378 batting average, nine RBI, and six stolen bases. Barbosa is no slouch, though, hitting for a .333 average with 5 RBI and 12 stolen bases.
Walks have been one of the main reasons for success for Chatham, as they lead the league in base on balls with 105 as a team in only 19 games. The next closest team is Cotuit, who only has 76 walks.
Infielder Mitchell Gunsolus
(Gonzaga) leads the league in that category with 17 walks of his own, Outfielder Rich Prigatano
(Long Beach State) is second in the league with 13, and utility-man Sheehan Planas-Arteaga
(Barry) is third with 12.
Gunsolus has also appeared in all 19 games for Chatham, and is second in the league with a .466 on base percentage.
Going into the 20th game of the Cape League season, the first-place Anglers are feeling pretty good about where they currently stand.
"I think we are back to the way we were playing when we were undefeated early in the season," Lukas Schiraldi
(Texas) said. "We had a sort-of rough stretch, but we are feeling good and loose again."
First pitch from Whitehouse Field will be at 7 p.m. There will be no audio broadcast tonight, as the game will be featured on Fox College Sports. Check your local listings for the game.