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If you blinked at any point of the first four innings, you could have missed a batter or two. P.J. Conlon (San Diego) and Robby Kalaf, the game’s starters, were using a big strike zone to cruise through each other’s lineups. A scoreless stalemate was soaring and sustainable — five strikeouts for each arm accentuating the duel.
But then the pitchers handed the game to Harwich slugger Sal Annunziata, whose individual effort built a bridge to a greater offensive punch.
“Yeah they were just hot but we also didn’t come out with a lot of energy, which shouldn’t have happened, “second baseman Justin Jones (UNLV) said. “We needed to come out a lot more energetic and we just fell flat.”
The Mariners (24-15-2) beat Chatham (17-23-1) 10-0 at Veterans Field on Thursday night, to move the season series to 6-0 in their favor. Conlon started for the Anglers but was hooked for the loss after giving up a solo home run to Annunziata in the top of the fifth, the only blemish on his line. Then Annunziata’s second home run of the game helped Kalaf, Harwich’s starter, earn the win. Annunziata finished 2-for-3 with two homers, three RBIs and three runs scored, and the rest of the Mariners lineup followed his lead.
With the Anglers loss came a win for Brewster, which shrinks the gap between the two teams to a meek three points. With four regular-season games to play Chatham, at the moment, holds the East Division’s last playoff spot.
“I felt good and thought I was able to work ahead but I made one mistake,” said Conlon of Annunziata’s first home run. “It was my changeup and that happened to be the pitch that was working for me best all night. But I left it up and he made me pay.”
Annunziata, who won the Cape Cod League Home Run Derby at Doran Park on Sunday night, displayed his power. The big righty’s shot in the fifth just barely cleared the left-field wall, but his one in the sixth wasn’t as close. Bryan Goossens (Siena) served up a fastball that Annunziata was sitting on, and he hit it over the batting cage in left. Left fielder Ty Moore (UCLA) made a small break for it but then dropped his hands and looked up as it sailed well over his head before disappearing in the trees.
The Anglers couldn’t find the same offensive stride, and Moore credited that to tentativeness.
“I was trying to just jump on any fastball I got,” he said after finishing 2-for-4 with a walk. “When a team is already in the playoffs and has that mindset, you have to take what you can get. And I don’t think we were aggressive enough tonight.”
With Chatham trailing 3-0 in the sixth and the game slightly slipping way, Jones stepped in with runners on first and third and two outs. He lined a two-strike pitch down the line in left that seemed bound for grass. But Skye Bolt had him played perfectly and glided under it before falling into an all-out dive that ended the threat.
A half inning later, the Mariners exploded for six runs that all but closed the book on the hosts.
Said Conlon: “They say hitting’s contagious and can be like a domino effect. That’s what happened at the end.”