After getting back in the win column on Friday with a 4-1 victory over Brewster, the Chatham Anglers (16-8-1) will make their second trip of the season to Eldredge Park to take on the rival Orleans Firebirds (11-13).
Although the players have only been here for a season or two, they are getting the sense of what the rivalry between Chatham and Orleans is all about.
"We are definitely getting a sense of the rivalry that exists between us and them," Lukas Schiraldi
(Texas) said. "I think it was the July 3-4 series that really made us realize it."
The Firebirds have struggled so far this season, and sit in fourth place in the Eastern Division, but lead the 2013 edition of the rivalry with two wins in three meetings.
The two teams last played in a July 3/July 4 home-and-home series, where Orleans took the first game at Eldredge park, shutting out the Anglers 3-0. The Anglers returned to Veterans Field on July 4 and defeated the Firebirds 7-2.
As they make their second trip to Eldredge park, Manager John Schiffner
will send left-hander Matt Gage
(Siena) to the mound to make his fifth start of the season.
Gage has picked up the win in each of his last two starts, and in his last appearance against Harwich, he only allowed two runs in six innings pitched, while striking out two in Chatham's 10-6 win over the Mariners.
photo by Chelsea Capwell/Chatham Anglers
Dante Flores (USC) continued his torrid pace on Friday,
collecting two hits and raising his average to .366
On the season, Gage is 2-1 with a 3.91 earned run average, striking out 12 while only walking four in 20.2 innings pitched.
(USC) has continued his impressive breakout season, leading the team in batting average (.366) and RBI (13). He also leads the league in doubles with nine on the season.
Reliever Mitch Merten
(UC Irvine) has been lights-out in his six appearances out of the bullpen, not allowing a run and striking out 13 in nine innings pitched.
The Angler offense will face a tough test on Saturday, as they go up against left-hander Bobby Poyner (Florida) for the second time this season.
Poyner's first appearance against Chatham came in the first game that these two teams played against each other on June 23. Poyner through five dominant innings against the Anglers, allowing only three hits and striking out four. He would not factor in the final decision, as Chatham dramatically came back to tie the game with five runs in the seventh inning, but would eventually lose to the Firebirds 6-5.
Poyner holds an impressive 0.94 ERA in four starts this season, allowing only two earned runs and one walk in 19 innings pitched. Those two runs came in his last start, where he was dealt the loss in a 2-1 defeat to the Wareham Gatemen.
For his sophomore season at Florida, Poyner made 14 appearances (seven starts) for the Gators, where he had a 3.41 ERA and 16 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched.
Second-baseman Ross Kivett (Kansas State) has been impressive of late for the Firebirds, raising his average from .208 to an impressive .321 over the past seven games, collecting six RBI along the way. He now leads Orleans in batting average.
Outfielder Chris Marconcini (Duke) has continued his impressive season for Orleans, hitting for a .309 average with three home runs and 14 RBI.
Trailing in the ninth inning could spell doom for the Anglers, as Firebirds closer Matt Troupe (Arizona) has been dominant in nine appearances, not allowing an earned run in 11.1 innings pitched.
For Schiffner, these division games always matter a little more.
"You always want to win the division games. A win helps separate yourself from them in the division, and it is two points that you are getting that they aren't," Schiffner said.
First pitch at 7 p.m. Tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame Show at 6:40 p.m. for live coverage with broadcasters Brandon Liebhaber and Keith Zubrow at TRZ Teamline
or call 1-800-846-4700, code 3841.
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. Follow him on twitter at @Chrisjones_UO, and follow the Chatham Anglers at @ChathamAnglers.