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A.J. Murray (Georgia Tech) isn’t going to hold it over his teammates’ heads. That isn’t the quiet first baseman’s style. When he muscled the Anglers’ first home run of the season over the right-field fence he calmly rounded the bases before hanging over the dugout rail like nothing had happened.
But the hit — that came in the first inning with Ty Moore (UCLA) leading off first — wasn’t as mundane as he played it off to be. It jolted an infectious energy into Chatham and gave Chatham a two-run lead that would stand for the rest of its second straight win.
“It was just good to get on the board early and play with a lead,” Murray said. “That always helps.”
Murray’s blast was the first step in the Anglers’ 4-1 win over Yarmouth-Dennis (2-5) at Red Wilson Field on Wednesday evening. Chatham would add two more runs throughout the rest of the game, and sterling pitching — accompanied by a handful of highlight-reel plays in the field — took it the rest of the way.
Jordan Hillyer (Kenessaw State) started the game for the Anglers, and was swift and stingy in five innings of a winning decision. Red Sox starter Kevin Duchene struck out seven hitters, but was tagged with three runs in five innings and was credited with the loss.
“You start out with a two-run lead and that helps and calms you down,” Chatham manager John Schiffner said. “Hillyer was excellent, Lou (Distasio) was excellent and Kyle (Davis) was excellent. And we also played great defense.”
The backend of Schiffner’s postgame evaluation underscored the backend of what has been a hot Anglers’ bullpen so far this season. Distasio (Rhode Island) took over for Hillyer and threw three scoreless innings before Davis (Southern California) shut the door in the ninth, but it was Hillyer and the defense behind him that got the game to that point.
Hillyer got out of the bottom of the first with an around-the-horn double play and the bottom of the second with another twin killing. Then he struck out two after Landon Cray (Seattle) made a tumbling catch in the left-center gap to retire the hosts in the third. He effectively pitched into outs to keep the Red Sox at bay despite issuing four walks, and pegged his arm and their gloves as the desired formula.
“I rely on those guys,” Hillyer said. “I don’t throw that hard so them making plays behind me is what I try and get.”
In the top half of the third, the Anglers added to their lead with just one hit. Blake Butera (Boston College) led off the inning with a double down the left-field line before Moore walked and Murray reached on an error. Then Chris Shaw (Boston College) — who hit in the cleanup spot for the first time this season — hit a dribbler to third that pushed Butera across the plate. An RBI single by Moore bookended the lineup’s night in the seventh, just as Distasio and later Davis was cruising through Y-D’s lineup.
For the second straight night, the Anglers out-hit, out-pitched and out-fielded its opponent. It seems like a simple formula, but it’s one that was tough for Chatham to nail down during a four-game skid after an opening-night win.
Now that skid is buried by two straight wins. And while that may not be much of a streak, it’s certainly a start.
Said Distasio: “Getting the lead in the beginning was really big for us and then we take pride in just getting the job done.”