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Anglers Gear up for 2016 Season

by David Souza
Friday, June 10, 2016

Anglers Gear up for 2016 Season

Chatham, Mass.  As the Anglers’ practice under the lights came to a close on Thursday night, Manager John Schiffner gathered his players into the dugout for his usual post-practice speech; however this time, it wasn’t Schiffner giving his team words of wisdom. Instead, former Chatham player and current Anglers’ treasurer Ed Baird stood at the top step of the home dugout, explaining to players how his playing days in Chatham still stand out in his mind today.

“I was here from 1965 to 1967 and they were the three best summers of my life. Well probably of my baseball career,” said Baird as he and the 2016 Anglers chuckled at the CCBL Hall of Famer’s walk down memory lane. At the very heart of Baird’s tale was a message that John Schiffner repeated often to his players, “we want this to be the best summer of your lives,” repeated the manager, entering his 24th season at the helm for Chatham.

While these 49 Anglers attempt to fulfill their coach’s dream for them, they must do so while playing a minimum of 44 games this summer, starting with Friday’s game against the Commodores. Comprised of players from schools as far west as UCLA and as far east as nearby Northeastern University, the Anglers have a diverse lineup that features both heavy hitting and power pitching.

Clemson’s Chase Pinder’s bat in the lineup provides a valued consistency, as the sophomore from Poquoson, Va. has started in all 64 of Clemson’s games. During that time, Pinder has hit 11 home runs to go with his 46 RBIs. Pinder’s hitting prowess extends past power as he has maintained a .294 batting average – good for third on the No. 12 Tigers.

Pittsburgh’s Charles LeBlanc also brings a heavy bat to Chatham. The Laval, Quebec native has the 10th best average in the country at .405. LeBlanc also leads a number of offensive categories for the Panthers including at-bats, hits, runs, on-base percentage, and OPS. His 46 RBIs also lead the team. The six-foot-four shortstop ranks third in triples and stolen bases, a testament to LeBlanc’s abilities on the base paths.

Tanner Gardner, an outfielder for Texas Tech, boasts a .376 average and has a team high five triples on the year for the Red Raiders. Long Beach State sophomore Brock Lundquist also posted a stellar average of .315 this season on top of driving in 36 runs. And while the Cape Cod Baseball League’s stingy pitching makes home runs a rarity, the Anglers have a player who can hit them, Mike Rivera. The Florida catcher has hit nine on the year for the Gators – who are still playing in the Super Regionals.

“Our goal is every year that these kids leave here better than when they got here,” said Schiffner. “If they get better, we should win games.” Hoping to improve and win games for Chatham is J.B. Bukauskas.

The UNC Tar Heel has been dubbed the Opening Day starter and has shown that he’s up to the challenge with his play at North Carolina. Leading the ACC in strikeouts with 111, Bukauskas relies on a moving fastball that can reach speeds in the high 90s to punch out hitters while also mixing in breaking balls to keep batters guessing.

As a reliever, UCLA’s Moises Ceja has appeared in 25 games, allowing eight earned runs. His 2.60 ERA is the lowest amongst starters and relievers for the Bruins while his four saves trail only teammate Brian Gadsby for best on the team.

Northeastern’s Mike Fitzgerald has also been a closer for his squad, as the right-hander recorded 11 saves and appeared in 27 games.

Simon Matthews’ five wins and 2.45 ERA lead both categories for Georgetown. The Temple transfer has also thrown five complete games for the Hoyas while no other pitcher on the roster has recorded one. Matthews’ 59 strikeouts trail team leader Matt Smith by four.    

With the 2016 season kicking off tonight in Chatham, the Anglers set their sights on winning games, improving their skills, and having a summer they'll always remember. As John Schiffner followed up Ed Baird in the waning hours of Thursday night, he offered a subtle reminder to his players of the talent that the CCBL often contains. After asking his players who played catcher during Baird’s time with Chatham, the manager answered, “Thurman Munson.”