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The Chatham dugout ducked, twice, as foul balls whizzed over their heads in the ninth inning.
Players held up baseballs to fake a miraculous catch. Others kept their heads below the rail and laughed like kids playing hide and seek. It was an entirely different late-inning scene than that of the prior two games — where the Anglers squandered two late-game leads in a loss and tie, respectively.
But Saturday’s finish provided less anxiety and therefore, less anguish. There’s always danger to avoid but the Chatham pitching staff — as well as its antsy dugout — were successful this time around.
“It was an all-around really good game,” Chatham manager John Schiffner said. “Defense was excellent, we pitched great and we hit. Great game.”
After tying Falmouth (4-5-1) on Friday night, the Anglers (4-5-1) beat the Commodores, 6-2, in front of 1,382 fans at Veterans Field on the backend of a home-and-home Saturday. Max Tishman (Wake Forest) earned the win in his second start of the summer, and the Anglers bolstered his on-mound effort with a five-run fourth.
Falmouth starter Brad Labozzetta received the loss after giving up five fourth-inning runs, which is where his line ended. Mike Wallace (Fairfield) collected the save for the Anglers by giving up two runs — one of which was earned — in the 3.2 innings that finished the game.
“It was a team win,” Tishman said. “And I’m happy to help my team and get my first win.”
While Chatham failed to convert despite putting two on in both the second and third, Tishman also worked into and out of jams to keep the game in a scoreless tie.
But then the bats found life in the bottom of the fourth, starting with a Patrick Mazeika (Stetson) home run, the first by an Angler at Veterans Field this season. Mazeika would eventually make the final out of the inning after Chatham batted around, but not before his teammates piggybacked on his solo blast. Kal Simmons (Kennesaw State) plated Nick Collins (Georgetown) on a groundout, Ty Moore (UCLA) brought in two with a double and Chris Shaw (Boston College) punctuated the rally with an RBI single down the right-field line.
For the first time in 7.2 innings, Tishman was given something to protect. And protect he did.
“Hats off to Tishman tonight,” Moore said. “He was confident and just rolled through and that was big for us.”
Tishman’s day finished after he yielded a single to Steven Duggar in the top of the sixth inning, his final line reading no runs, four hits, three strikeouts and two walks. Wallace came on to limit the damage and threw just two pitches before getting Conner Hale to fly into an inning-ending double play — one of four twin killings by the Anglers in the game.
A perfectly executed hit-and-run in the seventh, with Collins scoring Jake Fraley (LSU) on a single, added another feather to the cushion and Wallace staved off the Commodores from there.
Everything the Anglers did against Falmouth was produced by an assembly line. Two pitchers combined to hold the Commodores to two runs — only the third time they have scored three or fewer runs in 10 games this season. Those pitchers, Tishman and Wallace, used four double plays throughout the game to do so. The offense talked over what pitches they were seeing and how best to approach Labozzetta ahead of its businesslike, fourth-inning rally.
And most uniting was the result.
“We blew one against Harwich, we blew one and got a point last night, and then we got one,” Schiffner said. “We did everything the same tonight as we did in those last two games, and I’m really pleased with the way they’re playing right now.”