Anglers Come up Short Against Orleans, Season Comes to an End
by Chris Jones Monday, August 12, 2013
The 2013 Chatham Anglers season came to an end at Eldredge Park on Sunday night, as they fell 6-5 to the Orleans Firebirds in a classic playoff matchup, ending the series and sending the Anglers home for the summer.
"Hats off to Orleans, they kept coming at us and beat us tonight," Manager John Schiffner said. "I can not say enough about this team, we did not throw in the towel, and fought to the end."
Chatham came into the game with their backs against the wall, but jumped out on the Firebirds early when J.D Davis (Cal State Fullerton) hit his fifth home run of the summer. It was one of the stranger home runs of the season, as center-fielder Geoff DeGroot caught the ball, but his momentum took him over the wall where he dropped the ball, giving Davis the home run and the Anglers the 1-0 lead.
Anglers starter Aaron Garza (Houston) held the Orleans bats at bay until the third inning, when an RBI single from Austin Davidson tied the game at 1-1.
photo by Graham Harboe/Chatham Anglers J.D Davis (Cal State Fullerton) smacked his fifth home run of the season to give Chatham the early 1-0 lead. The Anglers were 21-0 when scoring first, but could not pull out the victory.
Orleans would take a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning on an RBI groundout from Ross Kivett, and a Will Fulmer RBI single.
Instead of calling it a season and folding, the Anglers fought back in a big way, the way they have all season.
"That is what they have done all season, they refuse to lose no matter what situation it is," Schiffner said.
Davis came through again, this time with an RBI single, then Jimmy Pickens (Michgan State) tied the game with an RBI groundout. With two outs, Connor Joe (San Diego) blasted a 1-2 offering from Josh Sborz (Virginia), who had just entered the game, giving Chatham a 5-3 lead.
"They brought in the new pitcher, got down in the count, but I got a fastball over the middle and got a hold of it," Joe said.
The Firebirds would not go away, as they answered Chathams four run inning with a two run frame of their own against reliever Kyle Funkhouser (Louisville), tying the game at 5-5.
The game stayed tied until the bottom of the eighth inning, when a controversial balk call and sac-fly gave the Firebirds a 6-5 lead, a lead that they would keep for good.
All-star closer Matt Troupe pitched a scoreless ninth inning to end the game, and the Anglers were sent home with a loss that ended their season.
"It was a tough loss, and I am really sad for this season to end, but it has been an amzing experience being apart of this team this summer," Joe said.
Connor Joe collected two hits, including his two-run home run, to finish the season with a .313 batting average, five home runs, and 25 RBI.
J.D Davis finished with two hits and two RBI of his own, finishing the season with a .309 average with five home runs and 29 RBI.
For Davis, the seasons ending came way too soon.
photo by Graham Harboe/Chatham Anglers "Throughout my managing tenure, this has been one of the best teams I have been around," Manager John Schiffner on this year's team.
"It has been a long summer, but it feels like this summer came to an end way too fast," Davis said.
Although the championship trophy eluded the Anglers, it was still a historically successful season for Chatham.
They finished with a league best 26-17-1 record, clicnhed their first winning record since 2007, won their first Presidents trophy since 1999, won their first East Division Regular Season Title since 2001, and won their first playoff series since 2001 as well.
For Schiffner, throughout his 21 year managing tenure, this team will go down in the books as one of the best.
"This is one of the best teams I have ever managed, and been around," Schiffner said, "We had talent, but what stuck out the most was the friendships these guys made and the way they played together the whole season. The coaches were the best, the team was a special one to manage, and it is sad that this great season had to come to an end."