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Johnny Sewald took Kyle Davis’ (Southern California) first pitch of the night onto Depot Rd. at the top of the hill behind the right-field wall. It bounced on the street and into the firehouse and turned what was supposed to be a five-out save into a tie game. Davis induced a fly out to center struck out Edwin Rios looking to end the top of the eighth, but the damage was temporarily done.
“I blew Jeff’s (Gelinas) win and at that point I blew the game” Davis said.
Then an eighth-inning rally bumped the Anglers ahead by two — an RBI double from Landon Cray (Seattle) at the center of it and later proving the game’s winning hit. Davis looked on from the dugout and two words popped into his head.
“I immediately thought, ‘Game over,” he said, a smile replacing small disdain. “I wasn’t going to give up two leads.”
Chatham (10-9-1) used the two-run eighth to beat Orleans (11-9) 9-7 at Veterans Field on Thursday night, a late push that made a winner out of Davis and handed Firebirds reliever Jacob Cronenworth the loss. Cronenworth came on with the game tied 7-7 at the start of the eighth, and yielded a double to Cray and RBI single by Ty Moore (UCLA) that all but sealed the game.
“That’s how you grind it out,” Chatham manager John Schiffner said. “We got the runs we needed at the end and that’s how you win a game. Gelinas (Maine) was great and once Davis got the lead back he was going to end the game.”
After six and a half innings and starters Zac Gallen (North Carolina) and Brett Lilek both out of the game, two home runs turned a 5-5 tie into an even more exhilarating stalemate. The first came so fast it could have easily been missed if not for a roar from the Chatham crowd. A.J. Murray (Georgia Tech) — who extended his hitting streak to nine games with a 2-for-3 night — lead off first after singling with two outs in the bottom of the seventh.
Then Chris Shaw (Boston College) laid into a 2-1 pitch from Reilly Hovis and moments later was finishing off his fourth home-run trot of the season, and his second in as many nights.
“That was a bomb,” Cray said. “Once he hit we just knew.”
And the same could be said for the answer that came a frame later. Shaw’s home run was immediately followed by Sewald’s blast in the eighth, which was a no-doubter off his bat. Davis left a first-pitch fastball too far over the plate, and the life was sucked out of the home crowd. But life was again injected into Veterans Field a half inning later, with Cray and Moore tag teaming a two-run frame that gave Davis a second chance. Cray finished the game 2-for-4 with two RBIs and three runs scored.
Davis let the first two hitters in the ninth reach base, one by way of double and the other by walk. But then he closed the night with a strikeout and double play, throwing his right arm in the air as Kal Simmons’ (Kennesaw State) rocket throw found Patrick Mazeika’s (Stetson) glove at first.
Said Davis: “I get emotional. I really wanted that one and once they turned the double play I got excited.”