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Falmouth was just a tad stingier in what quickly presented itself as an arms race. Not much else separated the two teams. Both collected a meek four hits and the pitching was almost even. But three runs was the only, however small, difference that mattered.
"That's just this league," Chatham manager John Schiffner said. "Both teams get four hits but they made more of their hits. That's what it came down to, that they just made more of theirs. We made a few small mistakes that hurt us."
The Commodores (19-14-1) rode four pitchers to a 3-0 win over Chatham (14-18-1) at Arnie Allen Diamond at Guv Fuller Field on Monday. Zac Gallen (North Carolina) started for the Anglers and — for the second time this season — was successful on Falmouth’s field. But the hosts scratched across two runs in the bottom of the fourth and another in the eighth to steal a game that neither team ever gained a grasp on.
Gallen received the loss after scattering two runs on three hits in six innings of work. Commodores starter Kevin McCanna earned the win with 5.2 shutout innings. He also struck out six while walking two and improves to 5-2 on the summer. After McCanna exited the game, four relievers — including Matt Hollenbeck, Matt Eckleman and closer Conor Costello, who notched the save — preserved the shutout.
"It's like this is my field," said Gallen, eluding to both the game and his six shutout innings at Falmouth on June 20. "But I can't get a win here. Sometimes the ball just doesn't bounce your way and that's what happened tonight. That's just baseball, that sometimes it just doesn't bounce your way."
After retiring seven straight hitters from the end of the first to the start of the fourth, Gallen yielded his first hit of the game to right fielder Steven Duggar. Duggar would eventually come around to score the run’s first game on an RBI single by Cameron O’Brien. Then Kevin Newman followed came across a hitter late when Boomer White reached on an error by the newly minted Justin Jones (UNLV).
The damage was minimal and Gallen went on to face a minimum six hitters in the fifth and sixth. But the Chatham lineup never solved Falmouth’s staff as its lineup fluffed the cushion, and the Anglers were left empty-handed. It was that they were striking out or lot or looking particularly out-of-sync at the plate — but the hits didn't come when they were needed most.
"They pitched well and we just didn't get that hit that we needed today," right fielder Chris Shaw (Boston College) said. "When we've been struggling a little bit it's because we can't get that timely hit."
After the game, with his team standing in a circle around him, Schiffner offered the same advice that he did at the start of the summer. At that time, when the players were first arriving in Chatham and hardly knew each other's names, Schiffner said that he wasn't going to put in a lot of signs or plays. He said the game would be simple so everyone could adapt. He also challenged his team to adopt Joe Dimaggio's mindset and play every day as if there was a kid there watching them for the first time. From as far as the dugout on Monday, you could hear Schiffner telling his team that it had to "get back to the basics if it wanted to win."
No errors. Smart base running. Situational hitting. When they broke the huddle there was an unexpected excitement among the team. The kind that shouldn't follow nine losses in 11 games. But Schiffner's simple breakdown of the road ahead was a reason to loosen up. The Anglers are now staring down the most important week of the season — five games before the All-Star game that will decide if they are a playoff team or not. And Schiffner put the ball in their court.
Said Shaw: "That's the mindset going into tomorrow against Cotuit. That we just need to play our games and it'll be fine."