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CHATHAM, Mass. – There are a few nights each year that put the significance of a player’s time in the Cape Cod Baseball League in perspective. Wednesday was one of those nights.
Before the winner-take-all E.D.S. Game 3 between the Chatham Anglers and Orleans Firebirds, a bevy of Angler alumni who fondly remembered their time in Chatham sent encouraging Tweets to the team. During the contest a swarm of over 3,000 spectators covered the hills surrounding Eldredge Park in a collage of beach chairs and blankets. And at as the Anglers mulled around the field following the game’s conclusion, it all began to sink in.
“I can’t believe it’s over,” said Aaron Barnett (Pepperdine). “I have so many memories from this team. From hanging out with my roommate and the boys, to doing field work, to playing—we were always having a good time.”
Orleans had been shut out the night before, but on Wednesday the Firebirds flipped the script to record a 10-1 victory in Game 3 of the E.D.S. The Orleans victory sends the Firebirds to the E.C.S. and ends the Chatham Anglers’ 2015 campaign.
“This team particularly worked hard and really bonded with their teammates,” said Manager John Schiffner. “That set them apart from a lot of the other teams—not that the other teams didn’t have good kids, because they did—but this team really pulled for one another. There were no cliques; they were a whole team.”
Part of the reason for the Anglers’ team success through the first two games of the E.D.S. circled around the fact they had held the Cape League home run leader Bobby Dalbec (Arizona) at bay. But in Game 3 the slugger found the sweet spot of the bat for the two times, connecting for a pair of three-run home runs. The Firebird offense also got a solo home run from Jeremy Martinez (Southern California), a sacrifice fly from Sean Murphy (Wright State), and RBI singles from Daniel Pinero (Virginia) and Bryan Reynolds (Vanderbilt).
Despite the Firebird offense showing why they were able to put together one of the greatest statistic years in Cape League history the Angler pitchers were not without their flashes of brilliance. The Anglers used a combination of seven pitchers—Ty Damron (Texas Tech), Zack Burdi (Louisville), Andre Scrubb (High Point), Garrett Williams (Oklahoma State), Jeff Paschke (Southern California), and C.J. Burdick (San Diego), James Mulry (Northeastern), and Jonathan Teaney (San Diego). Most threw against only a handful of batters with Burdi’s three frames making him the major inning eater. Highlights on the mound included six strike outs from Burdi and scoreless outings from Scrubb, Williams, Paschke, Burdick, and Teaney.
“I think a few life-long friends were made this summer,” said Schiffner. “It’s going to be tough for a few of these guys being apart the next few days.”
Four Anglers recorded hits during the game: Trenton Brooks (Nevada), Aaron Barnett (Pepperdine), Joey Rodriguez, and Zack Short (Sacred Heart). The most significant knocks came in the top of the seventh when Short ripped a one-out double and Brooks drove him home with an RBI single.
“I think we all got a lot better and had a lot of fun this season,” said Todd Czinege (Villanova). “I’ll never forget it.”
Following the game the Anglers met for their final postgame meeting. Probability indicates that a handful of them will likely return for a second year on the elbow of the Cape, but for many it was their final time in uniform on a Cape League field.
“I just told them how much I appreciated what they did and how hard they worked,” said Schiffner. “They were a great group of guys, and I thoroughly, thoroughly enjoyed coaching them.”
With that, another chapter in the history of the Chatham Anglers and the histories of thirty college boys closes. Their individual stories now take more divergent paths, but they remain forever intertwined by these few months.
Once an A, always an A.