The Chatham Anglers (19-8-1) rode a masterful performance from Tommy Lawrence (Maine) to their fourth-straight victory on Monday night, as they held off the Brewster Whitecaps 4-2 at Veterans Field.
Lawrence, who made his second start in five appearances this season, was lights-out, shutting down the Whitecaps for six innings. It only took Lawrence 75 pitches to cruise through his outing, in which he only allowed four hits, no runs, and picked up five strikeouts.
"I was really able to locate my breaking pitches well tonight, and mixing in the fastball really helped me on the mound," Lawrence said.
For the third time in the last four games, the Anglers got on the board in the first inning, this time behind an RBI double from Connor Joe (San Diego).
The Veterans Field crowd witnessed something that had not happened in 2013, as Manager John Schiffner was ejected in the second inning while arguing a play at first base, in which Whitecaps third-baseman Nick Lynch was called safe at first when the umpire declared that Joe did not keep his foot on the base.
photo by Chelsea Capwell/Chatham Anglers Tommy Lawrence (Maine) did not allow a run in six innings pitched against the Whitecaps in the 4-2 at Veterans Field.
After extended arguments with both the first-base and home plate umpire, Schiffner was tossed, and was forced to leave the game.
The managing duties were turned over to Nick Derba and the rest of the coaching staff.
"It was just business as usual. Schiffner has really done a great job of defining our roles, and everything really went according to plan," Derba said.
The Anglers fought on, and extended their lead on a two-RBI hit from Ryan Phelan (Fordham), who was making his debut for Chatham.
"It feels pretty awesome. I came into today just wanting to do a good job catching, and whatever came at the plate was just a bonus," Phelan said. "To help the team win in my first game is really special."
Despite only being with the team for four days, Phelan has loved the experience of being with the team.
"The whole experience has been pretty tremendous. The team and the coaches are great, and it has really been an unbelievable experience so far."
The Anglers led Brewster 3-0, as Lawrence continued to stymie the Whitecaps lineup. He was replaced after the sixth inning.
Lawrence now holds an unblemished 3-0 record with a 1.03 earned run average in 17.1 innings pitched this season. He has not allowed a run in the past 14.1 innings he has been on the mound.
"He competes," Derba said. "No matter the situation, he is out there attacking hitters, pounding the strike zone, and getting outs."
Brewster would not go down without a fight, though, as they would get two runs across in the eighth inning on a two-RBI single from first baseman Cole Lankford off of Ryan Leach (Franklin Pierce), making it a 3-2 ballgame.
The two runs allowed by Leach were the first runs allowed by the Chatham bullpen in the past 21.1 combined innings.
The Anglers would strike back in the very next frame, adding an insurance run on an RBI double from Josh Eldridge (Old Dominion), giving Chatham a 4-2 lead heading into the ninth inning.
Mitch Merten (UC Irvine), who had finished out the eighth inning, came in to close the game for the Anglers, but the Whitecaps would not go away easily. The first two runners reached base, and Brewster had the go-ahead run at the plate with no outs.
photo by Chelsea Capwell/Chatham Anglers Ryan Phelan (Fordham) had a hit and two RBI in his debut for the Anglers in their 4-2 win over Brewster on Monday.
Merten induced a fielder's-choice groundout for the first out, then got former Angler Aaron Brown to ground into a double-play to end the game and secure Chatham their fourth consecutive victory.
"He (Merten) came on really strong. He really embodies what this team is: a bunch of hard-nosed grinders that come out everyday and compete," Derba said.
Sheehan Planas-Arteaga (Barry) also had a productive day at the plate, drawing two walks and scoring two runs.
Walks continue to be the story for this year's Anglers, as they lead the league in that category, and drew nine base-on balls against Brewster.
"The approach is simple: swing at strikes, take balls," Derba said. "The guys are really implementing that, and it has really been one of the keys to our success."
With the win, Chatham preserved their nine point first-place lead in the Eastern Division, and improved on their league-best record, now standing at 19-8-1.
"It feels good to join a team, and be a part of a team that is winning consistently, and that continues to have a good time," Phelan said. "This is a pretty special team."