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Chatham, Mass. — The Chatham Anglers entered the bottom of the ninth inning facing a crucial turning point in their season. Trailing 3-2 to the fourth place Brewster Whitecaps, Chatham needed a rally, or else they would be staring down a seven-point deficit for the final playoff spot with 12 games remaining in the regular season. Instead of folding, the Anglers rose to the occasion.
After Stuart Fairchild’s single to left field scored Chase Pinder from second to tie the game and put the winning run on third, Orlando Garcia stepped up to the plate with a chance to redeem his team and himself.
The Texas Tech shortstop had struck out four times in four at-bats earlier in the game, but cleared his mind as he battled with Brewster’s Hanson Butler, fouling off four pitches with two strikes. Finally, on the seventh pitch of the at-bat, Garcia ripped a fastball to the right field warning track, scoring Simon Mathews, and ending Chatham’s losing streak.
“It’s an awesome feeling, anytime you get a walk-off hit it’s a great feeling – especially with these guys with the hype they brought in that last inning, it’s something else,” said Garcia. “It’s a great group of guys that enjoy the game, are ready to compete each and every day, and they bring good vibes, that’s all you can ask for.”
On the strength of Orlando Garcia’s resiliency at the plate, Chatham won 4-3 and now stands just a game and a half out of playoff contention.
The ninth began for the Anglers with a two-strikeout 1-2-3 inning by closer Moises Ceja in the top frame. Heading into the bottom of the inning, Chatham looked to come from behind for the first time in almost two weeks as Jeremy Vasquez laced a single up the middle to put the tying run on with no one out.
After Vasquez was lifted for the pinch-running Pinder, Donovan Casey moved his teammate into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt. Gunnar Troutwine followed by digging out an infield single to first base that fell between a diving Butler and Bryce Jordan. Fairchild then followed up with his game-tying single before Garcia’s heroics.
“I’m really pleased with the way the kids swung the bat today, I thought we swung very competitively,” said A’s manager John Schiffner. “[Garcia is] resilient. He didn’t let those previous at-bats bother him, the fact that he struck out those times. It’s like ‘okay I’m flushing those down the toilet and I’m going to concentrate on this at-bat,’ and he took some great swings, he fouled off some tough pitches, and then he just barreled that one up.”
Ceja (1-1) got the win for the Anglers while Butler (1-2) took the loss.
Lincoln Henzman went five full innings, allowing three runs and striking out two in the right-hander’s third start of the year. The Louisville product was charged with all three of Brewster’s runs in the second inning following two wild pitches and an RBI single by Bryce Jordan.
However, the Anglers battled back, scoring two runs in the fifth. John Aiello laced an RBI single over the head of shortstop Ryan Gridley that plated Jeremy Vasquez before a questionable balk brought home Donovan Casey. Fairchild walked to put the tying run on base, but Garcia would end the Chatham rally by striking out for the third time in the game.
“I felt myself getting a little long, a little big, you know you get excited when you see good pitches. I missed a lot tonight so, I have to critique myself on that,” said Garcia. “I was hoping I got that fifth at-bat because all you can do is compete. . . .and that’s what I do each and every day.”
Trailing in the final frame, the Chatham bench came to life as seemingly everybody in an Anglers uniform was wearing sunglasses with backwards hats and cheering loudly on every pitch. The character and liveliness was a welcomed return, as the Anglers haven’t seen that type of energy from their dugout since it was full of temporary players. Schiffner credits a lot of Tuesday night’s energy from the return of two former temporary players, both of whom have earned full time Chatham contracts.
“It certainly didn’t hurt that Reed Howell and Hunter Lee were back,” said Schiffner, grinning. “They provided a lot of energy for us when they were here the first time and it carried over. That was a fun inning, I was really happy to be apart of that.”
Hagen Owenby was the only Angler to record multiple hits on the day, as the East Tennessee State product went 3-for-4 with three singles in the victory.
The walk-off win is Chatham’s first victory since Garcia's Texas Tech teammate Tanner Gardner drove a walk-off homerun over the right field wall against Wareham on July 6. With the victory, Chatham improves to 12-19-1 and trails fourth place Brewster (13-17-2) by just three points for the final playoff spot.
“It’s a big win, we’re trying to win it,” said Garcia. “We’re not trying to get last, we’re not trying to lose and go home like an original summer team. It’s been a long year for some of these guys, but we’re here trying to win the whole thing. We understand that if we make a spot in the playoffs, we’re going to make a run.”