Before the game, the Anglers raked in the regular season honors, including the Presidents trophy for the best record in the Cape League, and the East Division regular season championship trophy. Manager John Schiffner was unanimously voted the Cape League Manager of the Year. Lukas Schiraldi (Texas), who started the game for Chatham, was awarded the pitcher of the year for the league.
"It really reminded us how much we have accomplished this season, and how good of a team we can be," Dante Flores (USC) said.
Chatham had stranded 39 men on base during their five-game losing streak, but Flores made sure those struggles would not continue, as he blasted a two-out grand slam off of Y-D starter Daniel Savas (Illinois State) to break the game open and give the Anglers a 4-0 lead.
photo by Graham Harboe/Chatham Anglers The Anglers were awarded the President's Trophy before the game. The award goes to the team with the best record.
"It was a lot of fun," Flores said. "I was looking for a slider, he threw one and left it up, and I got ahold of it. The guys at the bottom of the order got on base and gave me the opportunity to get them in."
The frustration of a rough stretch at the end of the season had disappeared with one swing of the bat from Flores.
"Our approach hasn't changed, but the balls had not been falling for us. All we needed was that one at-bat to get us back on track," Flores said. "We feel like, with this win, we are back on top."
This is the second season for Flores with the Anglers, and he saw Chatham fall to Y-D in the playoffs last year. In a breakout season for Flores, the grand slam added an exclamation point to the summer for him.
"It was amazing. This summer has been great for me, and to get the big hit to help my team win was awesome," Flores said.
As it turns out, the Anglers would only need one run to get the win, as Schiraldi got the game one start for the Anglers, and turned in his best outing of the year.
In front of a packed house of 3,684 at Veterans Field on Tuesday night, Schiraldi was not affected, as he dominated the Red Sox lineup for seven innings, only allowing two hits, no walks, and striking out six.
"My fastball command was really working tonight," Schiraldi said. "Ryan Phelan (Fordham) did a great job catching, I had a great defense behind me, and Flores grand slam gave me a good lead to work with."
It only took Schiraldi 79 pitches to complete seven near-perfect innings, as he only faced two batters over the minimum. He has not allowed allowed a run in his last 20 innings, and has a league-leading 1.01 earned run average over 44.2 innings pitched this season.
"He (Schiraldi) has gotten better each and every start this season," Schiffner said. "He was absolutely amazing tonight."
In typical Chatham fashion, the Angler hitters worked Savas, including drawing 10 full-counts against the right-hander, making him throw 113 pitches in only 4.2 innings of work, in which he gave up five runs and four walks.
Ryan Plourde (Fairfield) extended the lead to 5-0 in the fifth inning as he beat out a two-out infield single, then Connor Joe (San Diego) made it a 6-0 game with his fourth home run of the season.
photo by Graham Harboe/Chatham Anglers Dante Flores (USC) broke the game open with a grand slam in the second inning, giving Chatham a 4-0 lead against Y-D
Not to be outdone by Schiraldi, Mitch Merten (UC Irvine) came in and continued the dominance of the Red Sox offense. He struck out the side in the eighth inning, then did not allow a hit in the ninth inning as he closed out the win for the Anglers.
Blake Butera (Boston College) had a nice night at the plate as well, collecting two hits, a walk, and scored two runs.
With the win, the Anglers are now only one victory away from clinching a spot in the East Division Championship series, and five wins away from winning their first Cape League title since 1998.
"It is an amazing spot to be in," Flores said. "We have the momentum going into tomorrow, and if we win that game, the series is ours."
Schiffner will send Tommy Lawrence (Maine) to the mound for Chatham in game two against the Red Sox at Red Wilson Field. Lawrence has been one of the leaders of the Anglers pitching staff, posting a 1.58 ERA with 23 strikeouts and only one walk over 28.1 innings pitched.
"Tommy (Lawrence) gets the job done," Schiffner said. "We could not feel like we are in a better position than we are now."
First pitch at 4 p.m. Tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame Show at 3:30 p.m. for live coverage with broadcasters Brandon Liebhaber and Keith Zubrow at TRZ Teamline or call 1-800-846-4700, code 3841.