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Chris Shaw (Boston College) didn’t think it had enough. A.J. Murray (Georgia Tech) saw Shaw hit the ball on the barrel and thought it had a chance. Cotuit right fielder Rhett Wiseman gave it the time of day but eventually slammed the breaks on in front of the warning track.
A combination of the persistent wind and Shaw’s strength — much like Murray’s home run in the first inning — put a ball at the base of the woods behind the right-field wall in the fifth, and the Anglers nestled themselves into the game's driver’s seat.
“I didn’t think it was going to go out,” Shaw said. “Thankfully it did, the wind was blowing out and I guess I got just enough of it to put it over.”
While Chatham (9-9-1) has sprinkled long balls throughout the season, it was until Wednesday that the home run served as the centerpiece of its attack. The Anglers used Murray and Shaw’s home runs to beat Cotuit (9-10), 7-2, at Lowell Park in a game that was shorted a half inning due to darkness. Murray didn’t stop with his first-inning blast, reaching base in all five of his at-bats and finishing 3-for-3 with a double, two runs scored and three RBIs.
Jordan Hillyer (Kennesaw State) started for Chatham and improved to 3-0 on the season, and Zack Burdi (Louisville) and Lou Distasio (Rhode Island) came on in relief to help Hillyer to the win. Travis Duke started for the hosts and was credited with the loss after giving up three runs on six hits in 2.1 innings of work.
“This is a good win where everyone chipped in,” Anglers manager John Schiffner said after pumping his fist as he broke from the postgame huddle. “I love my pitching. We hit well and we once again got great pitching.”
The game quickly presented a first baseman that could do no wrong. After a two-run home in the first, Murray doubled to lead off the second before a Landon Lassiter (North Carolina) sacrifice fly brought Shaw home to bump Chatham’s lead to 3-0. Then he singled to start the fifth and scored on Shaw' homer, and reached in his final two at-bats by way of hit by pitch and walk — the walk bringing home the Anglers’ seventh and final run and granting him an unconventional RBI.
Hillyer, for the third time in as many starts, threw five innings and did a viable job in keeping the opposition at an arm’s length. After a six-pitch, one-two-three first, the tall right-hander used a diving catch by Ty Moore (UCLA) to get out of the second. In the fifth, he threw a pair of sharp sliders that saw two punch outs finish his line, his only hiccup coming on a double play that scored a run in the third. He finished the five innings with one run, three hits, and four strikeouts to his name.
But even with Hillyer dealing and Shaw adding to the offense with a rainbow shot to right, Murray’s bat was the focal point.
“Oh man, A.J. is just hot,” Schiffer said. “Just really rolling right now.”
And in typical Murray fashion, he deflected compliments and placed his effort into the team’s. The victory came in convincing fashion with the offense, pitching and defense sliding into a rhythm, and he saw himself as just another drummer in the line.
Said Murray: “I was just happy that we got the win today. It was a good one.”