Anglers Offense Explodes, Chatham Holds Off Harwich
by Chris Jones Saturday, July 06, 2013
It was a nationally-televised matchup between two of the top teams in the Cape League on Saturday Night at Whitehouse Field, which included a lot of offensive production from both teams and some big-game moments.
The Anglers (13-6-1) gave the national audience a show, as they pounded out ten runs and thirteen hits against the Harwich Mariners (11-9) en route to a 10-6 victory. The win is Chatham's third straight.
"It was a grinder of a game," Manager John Schiffner said. "That is a good team that we beat tonight, so it was definitely a good win for us."
Chatham struck early against Harwich starter Keaton Haack (Alabama), taking the lead in the first three batters of the game with a Dante Flores (USC) triple and a Connor Joe (San Diego) double. The Anglers faced Haack in the last meeting between these two teams, where he surrendered 5 runs in an 8-4 Chatham win.
photo by Chelsea Capwell/Chatham Anglers Matt Gage (Siena) pitched six strong innings for his second win of the year.
Flores continued his impressive season on Saturday night, with two hits, the three RBI, and a run scored. He raised his average to .365 on the season, which is second-best in the Cape League.
"He has greatly improved," Schiffner said. "I think the vast majority who come back for a second year are better."
This is Flores' second year as an Angler. In his first season, Flores stuggled with a .154 batting average and 3 RBI in 20 games for Chatham. This season, Flores has been happy with the improvement he has made.
"Knowing the Cape League experience, and knowing that I have done all of this before has really helped my confidence," Flores said. I have definitely learned a lot and improved a lot since then."
With the broadcast cameras around the field set on him, Matt Gage (Siena) took the mound for the Anglers.
"It doesn't get much better than that. It is in your mind a little when you are warming up, but once you are pitching you don't think about it at all," Gage said. "I am glad I could put in a good performance on national television"
Gage got into trouble in the first inning, allowing the bases loaded with no outs in the first inning. He would limit the damage though, inducing a double play and a groundout to end the inning while only allowing one run.
After struggling in the first inning, Gage would buckle down, only allowing two earned runs while picking up two strikeouts over six innings pitched.
The Angler offense gave him plenty of room to work with, scoring six runs in the first six innings behind three RBI from Flores, and RBI from Joe, Blake Butera (Boston College), and Landon Lassiter (North Carolina).
In the seventh inning, Schiffner turned the ball over to the bullpen, in what looked like a rout for the Anglers. The bullpen staff has been lights-out of late, only allowing two runs in the past eleven innings.
The Mariners hopped on the Chatham bullpen, collecting five hits and putting four runs on the board in the seventh inning off of Joe Goodman (High Point) and Ryan Leach (Franklin Pierce). After the seventh inning had finally ended, Harwich had turned a supposed blowout into a three-run ballgame.
Harwich threatened again in the eighth inning, this time against Kyle Funkhouser (Louisville).
The turning point in the game came when the Mariners had the bases loaded and the go-ahead run at the plate in designated-hitter AJ Reed (Kentucky). With a 3-2 count against Reed, Funkhouser called Joe out to the mound before the seventh pitch of the at-bat. With the very next pitch, Funkhouser pulled the string, fooling Reed with a slider, striking him out and preserving the Anglers 9-6 lead.
photo by Chelsea Capwell/Chatham Anglers Dante Flores (USC) continued his impressive season with two hits and 3 RBI in the 10-6 win over Harwich.
"That was a devastating pitch," Schiffner said. "We did not call that from the dugout, that was all him, and what a pitch that was."
Chatham would add an insurance run in the ninth inning on an RBI single from Josh Eldridge (Old Dominion), then Funkhouser would set the Mariners down in order with two strikeouts to end the game.
With the win, Chatham extends their lead in the Eastern Division to 2.5 games over the Mariners.
Chatham's offense has carried the team to three straight victories, scoring 25 runs in those three games, 17 of which have come in the first four innings.
"We are really locked in at the plate right now," Flores said. "We are sticking to our approaches, doing what we need to do, and coming through when we need to."
As the team approaches the halfway point of the season, sitting in first place, they like where they are at.
"We are on top of the world right now," Flores said. "We are going to stay humble, but we are confident and it feels great to be playing so well."
Chris Jones is in his first year as the Web Reporter and Social Media Manager for the Chatham Anglers. He is responsible for all game previews, recaps, and live-tweeting of all Angler games. He was born and raised in Marblehead, MA, and is currently a journalism student at the University of Oregon