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CHATHAM, Mass. – It’s an age-old riddle—what happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force' The answer—it depends on the night.
On Monday the stacked Orleans Firebird offense bested a stout Chatham Angler pitching staff, but on Tuesday the Angler hurlers reversed their fortune in a 1-0 triumph over the Firebirds. The game evens the Eastern Divisional Series at one apiece and forces a conclusive game three tomorrow night in Orleans.
“What a pitching performance tonight,” said an emotional Manager John Schiffner after the game. “That was unbelievable. It was fun.”
The shutout was orchestrated by a trio of Chatham pitchers—Parker Dunshee (Wake Forest), Brandon Miller (Millersville), and Aaron McGarity (Virginia Tech). The group combined for 11 strikeouts and allowed only three Firebirds to reach base—two on hits and one on an E5.
Parker Dunshee (Wake Forest) set the tone with a videogame of a six-inning start. He threw strikes on 60 out of his 75 pitches (80.0%) and first-pitch strikes to 18 out of 21 batters (85.7%). He did not allow a walk and permitted only one batter to work him to a three-ball count.
“I was just trying to get ahead,” said Dunshee, who forced 10 of 21 batters into 0-2 counts. “I’ve gotten to watch these guys swing the last few days, so I had a pretty good idea of how I wanted to attack hitters. They have a lot of really good hitters, and getting ahead in the count is what you have to do if you want to beat them.”
Dunshee used a standard strike-throwing, fastball-heavy approach his first time through the Orleans order. Despite seeing a healthy dose of the right-hander’s heater, the Firebirds had trouble catching up with it. Dunshee’s impressive use of old number one yielded 25 strikes in 29 pitches and five punch-outs over a perfect opening three frames.
“They knew he was coming in with strikes and he was able to elevate when he wanted to elevate,” said Schiffner. "When you’re down two strikes and that thing comes in, it really looks like its rising.”
Subsequent times through the order Dunshee continued to pump fastballs in the low 90s and began to mix in an increasing number of curveballs and changeups. The difference in speed and break accompanied by the same pinpoint location further confused the Firebirds, who managed only two weak hits and struck out eight total times against the Demon Deacon.
"Six innings and two hits against the best lineup in the league," said Schiffner. "That was incredible."
Brandon Miller (Millersville) followed Dunshee with two perfect innings, and Aaron McGarity (Virginia Tech) added a 1-2-3 inning of his own to record the save in the ninth. The two have not allowed a run since July 3 and issued a single walk between them during their All-Star regular seasons. Neither has blown a lead all summer.
“[Miller and McGarity] just come in and pound the strike zone,” said Dunshee. “It’s awesome to watch.”
Meanwhile, the Angler offense provided all of the necessary support in the bottom of the fourth inning. Aaron Barnett (Pepperdine) led the frame off with a single, Will Craig (Wake Forest) followed by working a 10-pitch walk, and Luke Persico (UCLA) rocketed a single to left to load the bases. With the infield in Joey Rodriguez (Wake Forest) shot a hard ground ball through the right side to drive in Barnett.
The solitary run would stand.
The Chatham victory sets up an all-deciding game three 7 p.m. Wednesday night at Eldredge Park in Orleans. Probable starters for that matchup are yet to be determined.