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CHATHAM, Mass. – The Chatham (22-21) pitching staff has formed the backbone of the squad all summer. It has created a structure that has given the team a chance in almost every game this season, and a combination of timely hitting and solid defense has finished the job in most cases.
Saturday night at Eldredge Park the Anglers’ backbone—their pitching staff—threw as well as they had all year, but the supporting cast could not push them over the edge. At the game’s end Orleans triumphed over Chatham, 4-2.
“We just didn’t play very well behind the pitchers tonight,” said Manager John Schiffner.
A.J. Puckett (Pepperdine) was hooked with the loss despite throwing six solid innings in his fourth start this summer. The California righty struck out five Firebirds and minimized the Orleans damage despite the uncharacteristically spotty defense behind him. Perhaps the best example of Puckett limiting the Firebirds came in the top of the fifth when, with the bases loaded and one out, he induced a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning without relinquishing a run.
“I thought he was super accurate, and every fastball he threw was down-hill,” said Aaron Barnett (Pepperdine), who caught the game. “He always located his off-speed stuff very well and brought that fire that he always has.”
Puckett was succeeded on the mound by fellow Californian, C.J. Burdick (San Diego). Burdick came in to face the heart of the Firebird order, and he shut them down. In summation Burdick struck out one over two 1-2-3 innings. The outing extends his scoreless inning streak to thirteen consecutive.
The Angler offense provided all of their support in the top of the third inning through a series of well-executed situational at-bats. Trenton Brooks (Nevada) and Garrett Hampson (Long Beach State) set the inning up by beating out a couple of push bunts after Todd Czinege (Villanova) legged out an E5. With the bases loaded and nobody out Will Craig (Wake Forest) brought home Czinege on a sacrifice fly, and Aaron Barnett (Pepperdine) followed by driving Brooks in with a sacrifice fly of his own.
"We just have to come out and compete tomorrow," said Brooks. "Not put too much pressure on ourselves and just play."
The Anglers (22-21) next return to Veterans Field for a 7 p.m. rematch with the Firebirds (30-12-1). The probable Chatham starter is the left-handed James Mulry (Northeastern). He is 1-0 with a 2.28 ERA through 11 appearances this summer. His counterpart from Orleans is yet to be announced.