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Chatham bookended the night with runs.
Kal Simmons (Kennesaw State) hit a solo home run on the game’s first pitch. Seconds before Jake Fraley (LSU) was thrown out at home to end a mini comeback bid in the top of the ninth, Kevin Fagan (Stetson) came across. The Anglers started and finished its second straight meeting with Bourne scoring runs, but what came in between the first and ninth led to a fifth straight loss.
“We aren’t getting timely hits and we need to,” Simmons said. “We have opportunities to score and we just aren’t getting the hits, but we’ll figure it out.”
After losing to Bourne (18-9) in the front end of a home-and-home on Friday night, Chatham (12-14-1) fell again, 8-3, at Doran Park on Saturday. The Braves got great pitching from starter Travis Bergen, who earned the win while giving up one run in seven innings. He also struck out five while walking none, as sharp command of his fastball allowed him to get and stay ahead in counts.
Anglers starter Max Tishman (Wake Forest) was credited with the loss after yielding seven runs — three of which were earned — in a hard-fought three innings.
“It’s just not all coming together right now,” Chatham manager John Schiffner said. “We don’t look particularly good and you can look better even when you lose. We don’t though.”
Bergen made one staining mistake before embarking on his gem. The left-hander plays at Kennesaw State and knew that Simmons, his college teammate, would be the first batter he faced. That matchup, as well as the rest of the tight, tilted in Simmons’ favor, as the switch-hitting shortstop laid into a first-pitch fastball.
The ball rocketed off his bat and was caroming around the Braves’ left-field bullpen by the time he was rounding first base.
“I know him well being his teammate and I knew he was going to throw me a fastball first pitch just to get it over,” said Simmons, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI, walk and run scored. “I even catch him sometimes at school so I’ve seen him pitch a lot and knew I could jump on it.”
When Chatham was stumbling through a four-game losing streak at the start of the summer,the team constantly said that it needed one hit to snap out of the funk. That hit, in a game against Brewster that now feels like an eternity ago, came off Nick Collins’ (Georgetown) bat. And it seemed Saturday that Simmons’ bat would have a similar effect on a similar stretch of play.
But Bergen pulled the plug on what promised to be an electric night for the Anglers. Bourne’s offense negated Simmons’ homer with a four-run bottom of the first, then added to its early lead with a three-run home run from Harrison Bader in the bottom of the third. Bergen then set down nine straight hitters before Patrick Mazeika (Stetson) singled to start the seventh. That was his last inning of work and he fittingly finished his line by striking Fagan out.
The last time Chatham visited Duran Park it won 13-3 to run a two-game run total to 29. The Anglers scored in the first five innings of that game before its bats went silent from the sixth inning on.
It didn’t get the same kind of production Saturday, or the same kind of result.
“We just need to focus more and figure this out,” said reliever P.J. Conlon (San Diego), whose three scoreless innings added a positive complexion to the backend of the night. “We’ll be fine, it’s just a focus thing.”