The Anglers fell to the Orleans Firebirds last night at Veterans Field in game one of the East Division Championship Series, and now face elimination.
The Anglers dug themselves an early 4-0 hole through two innings in Saturday's loss, a hole that they could not come back from. Chatham only managed three hits against the Firebirds pitching, leading to a 7-3 defeat in the crucial first game of the three-game series.
"They (Orleans) beat us, and if they beat us tomorrow, they would have earned it," Manager John Schiffner
With their backs against the wall, and their season on the line, Schiffner will hand the ball to right-hander Aaron Garza
(Houston). Through seven starts on the season, Garza is still looking for his first victory as an Angler.
"He has pitched well all season, but we just need to get him some run support to get him his first win," Chad Sobotka
(South Carolina-Upstate) said.
Garza is 0-4 on the season with a very respectable 3.56 earned run average, striking out 21 and only allowing eight walks over 35.1 innings pitched.
In his last start, Garza only allowed one earned run on five hits with three strikeouts, but was dealt the loss as the Anglers offense was silent, and Chatham fell to Brewster 8-1 on July 30.
photo by Graham Harboe/Chatham Anglers
Aaron Garza (Houston) will look to help keep the Anglers
season alive as they face elimnation at Eldredge Park.
Apart from one start at Bourne where he gave up five earned runs in a no-decision, Garz has not allowed more than two earned runs.
"He is a great pitcher, I keep saying he is the best 0-4 pitcher in the league," Schiffner said. "No better time to get his first win of the season."
Garza's Orleans counterpart on the mound will be left-hander Shawn ONeill (La Salle). On the season, he has made 11 appearances for the Firebirds, but only three of them have been starts. In 35.2 innings pitched, ONeill holds a 3.11 ERA with 21 strikeouts and only five walks.
He has made one playoff appearance already, pitching two shutout innings of relief against Harwich, only allowing one hit while striking out two, but Harwich would hold on for th 6-5 win in game one.
To gain momentum in a win-or-go-home situation, the Anglers will have to strike first against Orleans. Chatham is a perfect 21-0 on the season when scoring first.
For the Anglers, who dominated the regular season, but face elimination for the first time this summer, the plan is simple.
"We have to win four straight," Sobotka said. "I do not think we are ready to go home yet, so we are going to go out and play hard."
First pitch at 7 p.m. Tune into the Anglers Extra Pregame Show at 6:30 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 the Beat Writer and Social Media Manager for the Chatham Anglers. Follow him on twitter at @Chrisjones_UO, and follow the Chatham Anglers at @ChathamAnglers.