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CHATHAM, Mass. – The Veterans Field crowd held its breath as the ball soared towards right-center field wall. Nobody within 300 feet of it moved a muscle—nobody except the Angler right fielder Trenton Brooks (Nevada).
The sound of his footsteps echoed throughout the momentarily silent park until he induced a collective exhale by reaching above the wall to steal two nearly-logged Wareham runs. Then he inspired a roar by throwing a white streak back to Luke Persico (UCLA) at first base to double off an overly-optimistic runner.
“That was just a great play,” said Manager John Schiffner. “He climbed the wall and then turned around and fired it in. That was the play of the game.”
Brooks’ run-and-gun was just one of a series of defensive gems that helped lift the Anglers to a 2-1 victory over the Wareham Gatemen Wednesday night. Aaron Barnett (Pepperdine) contributed to the series with a spinning, sliding throw, Luke Persico left his feat to grab two balls, and Jake Godfrey (Louisiana State), Garrett Hampson (Long Beach State), and Nate Mondou (Wake Forest) combined with Persico for a pair of breathtaking 1-6-3 and 3-4-1 groundouts.
The Anglers’ (17-13) defensive excellence was made all the more impressive by the limited number of threatening balls their pitching staff allowed.
Jake Godfrey (Louisiana State) was the grand marshal of the out parade. The hard-throwing righty missed the first portion of the season because of the College World Series, but he continued to make up for lost time in his second start and fourth appearance of the summer.
By the time Godfrey exited the game he recorded four strikeouts in as many innings. The only tally he allowed was a piece of unearned contraband the Gatemen (12-17) stole in the top of the first.
“He’s got really good stuff,” said Schiffner. “Especially when he stays around the plate.
The Chatham bullpen followed Godfrey by keeping the relentless pace their starter set. Brandon Miller (Millersville) did what has become commonplace for him—deliver three scoreless innings. He struck out three and allowed only one runner to reach base on a grazing hit by pitch.
“Every game I come over [here] and say how good of a job Brandon Miller has done,” said Schiffner. “He did it again.”
Meanwhile the Chatham offense crossed the runners necessary to give their pitching staff a lead. In the fourth Aaron Barnett recorded the fifth RBI of his four-game hit streak to put the Anglers on the board, and a Todd Czinege single in the seventh produced a one-run lead.
“I knew that the pitcher loved his slider,” said Czinege, who faced Wareham pitcher Tyler Thorne last Wednesday. “So I was just looking for sliders and was able to go the other way with that one.”
The narrow margin was all Chatham needed in the eighth and ninth. Cameron Stone (Stony Brook) delivered a scoreless eighth, and Aaron McGarity (Virginia Tech) inked his sixth save of the year in the ninth.
“We’re in great shape in the bullpen,” said Schiffner. “If McGarity or Scrubb closes one night, we have the other. And we can use Burdi in that situation, and we can use Miller in that situation too.”
After an off day Thursday the Anglers head to Wareham for a rematch with the same Gatemen team. In that contest Chatham is expected to hand the ball to the left-handed Daniel Castano (Baylor). Castano has racked up 17 strikeouts in five outings. His likely adversary from Wareham has yet to be named.