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Orleans, Mass. — Jake Palomaki led the game off with a bunt single down the third base line and advanced over to third thanks to a wild pitch two batters later. With two outs and Hagen Owenby at the plate, Chatham looked to take an early lead against the rival Orleans Firebirds. Instead, Owenby struck out, making Palomaki the first of 10 Anglers to be left on base in Friday night’s 5-3 loss.
“We were patient [at the plate], but still needed to get that clutch hit, we just did not get clutch hits,” said manager John Schiffner. “They gave us enough base runners where we should have been in the game, but we weren’t.
The Anglers (11-17-1) rallied in the ninth inning, trailing 5-1, when Patrick Mathis came to bat with two on and two out. After striking out to end the game against Bourne four days earlier, Mathis redeemed himself by smoking a two-run double down the left field line. However, the comeback came too little, too late as Brandon Bielak got Owenby to strike out swinging to end the contest.
Kevin Smith (3-2) earned the win for the Firebirds (15-13-1) after allowing one hit in three innings of relief. The University of Georgia southpaw walked two batters and struck out three after coming in for starter Chandler Day to start the fourth inning. Orleans pitching combined for ten strikeouts, recording at least one in seven different innings. The Firebirds also issued eight walks to Chatham hitters on the night.
Simon Mathews (1-2) took the loss for the Anglers, conceding four earned runs on eight hits in four and two-thirds innings. The Georgetown product ran into trouble in the third inning when he allowed a three-run homerun to Drew Lugbauer that pushed Orelans lead from one run to four.
“The Lugbauer homerun was a fastball down the middle that he hit where he should,” conceded Mathews. “It was up, over the middle, and that’s what kids in this league are going to do to that pitch.”
Two innings later, with two on and two out, Schiffner lifted Mathews in favor of Kale Breaux as Lugbauer came to the plate. As the skipper trotted out to the pitcher’s mound, Mathews looked upset, wanting the chance to finish the inning and retire the Michigan first baseman.
“He competes hard, he wanted to stay in the ballgame,” said Schiffner of Mathews. “He had thrown enough. He had given up a monster home run off [Lugbauer] earlier, so it was I think the best move. . . .but I did not mind him wanting to stay in the game.”
“I don’t want to leave guys on base for somebody else, especially with Lugabuer up” said Mathews. “I thought I could get him out, I wanted to. Coach Schiff made the right call though, Kale came in and got the job done. . . .[Breaux]’s got a great breaking ball, he threw three of them, and [Lugbauer] never had a chance.”
That fierce competitiveness has kept Chatham in games all year, as the Anglers offense rallied in their final chance for the second time in three games. However, both comebacks ultimately fell short.
After losing both James Karinchak and Nick Meservey earlier this week, Chatham tested its new pitcher, Garrett Whitlock of Alabama-Birmingham, in the seventh inning. Pitching one frame, the right-hander sat down all three Firebirds he faced, including a two-out strikeout of Lugbauer.
Schiffner spoke highly of his new thrower after the game, commending Whitlock for his performance while stating, “I like him, he’s going to help us.”
With the loss, Chatham has now lost three straight games and is still searching for its first win following a walk-off victory against Wareham back on July 6. The Anglers are now in sole possession of last place in the East Division as the Brewster Whitecaps upended the Hyannis Harbor Hawks last night at McKeon Park.
The Firebirds improved to two games above .500 with the win, and now stand three games above Brewster, in third place. Orleans has won three of five games against the Anglers this season.
Chatham is back in action on Saturday against the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox at 7 p.m. at Veterans Field. Catch all the action, as well as the Anglers Extra Pregame Show 20 minutes before first pitch, live on the Cape Cod Baseball Network.