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Cotuit, Mass. — The Chatham Anglers entered the ninth inning of Sunday’s contest with the Cotuit Kettleers trailing by a run, in need of yet another late game comeback. The frame began with a groundout before Sean Bouchard walked to bring the go-ahead run to the plate and a pinch-runner, Hunter Lee, to first base.
As Gunnar Troutwine stood in the batter’s box, Lee crept further and further off the bag at first base. On an 0-1 count, Troutwine lined Jacob Erickson’s pitch right into the glove of second baseman A.J. Balta before Jordan Romero struck out looking as the Anglers dropped a 1-0 contest to Cotuit at Lowell Park.
The contest featured two starting pitchers who were both vying for a much-needed win as Chatham’s Parker Rigler (0-4) and Cotuit’s Rio Gomez (1-1) battled through five-plus innings. Rigler turned in his second consecutive strong start, after allowing no earned runs in a 3-0 loss to Hyannis last Sunday. At Cotuit (14-26-1), the Kansas State southpaw tossed five and two-thirds innings while striking out five and allowing eight hits.
“I attacked the strike zone early,” said Rigler. “They were hunting fastballs all night, So I tried to pitch backwards a little bit, start them off with some off-speed and then incorporate the fastball later on deeper into counts.”
In the past two starts, Rigler has pitched a combined 12 and a third innings, striking out 10 total batters while giving up one combined earned run. He has been the losing pitcher in both outings.
Rigler’s only mistake on the night came on the first pitch of the sixth inning as Tim Susnara pumped a fastball over the right-center wall for the lone run of the game. Despite the blast, Rigler still remained positive, settling down to get two outs before being lifted in favor of Garrett Whitlock.
“I was pleased with my outing,” said Rigler. “The solo homerun, that hurt, but at the same time it was a pitch low in the zone so you just have to tip your hat to the hitter, that was a really nice well hit ball.”
Cotuit threatened to extend its lead immediately following the Susnara homerun, after back-to-back one-out singles, but were thwarted by heads-up fielding by Rigler. With runners on the corners Ryan Hagan attempted to bring in Greyson Jenista from third with a squeeze bunt. But, as Jenista broke to the plate, Rigler charged from the mound before fielding the ball and shoveling it to catcher Jordan Romero, who applied the tag in time.
“I really didn’t want to flip it over [Romero],” said Rigler. “So I just flipped it low and it ended up one hopping and it worked out. He handled the ball well and I've got to tip my hat to Jordan. . . .he saved the play.”
Whitlock came on in relief of Rigler, escaping jams in the sixth and seventh before finishing the game with two strikeouts and one hit allowed in two and a third innings. The Alabama-Birmingham freshman escaped a two-outs, bases loaded situation in the sixth by getting Jackson Klein to fly out to left field. Whitlock again danced out of trouble in the next inning by retiring three straight batters after allowing a leadoff triple to Quinn Brodey.
“All the pitchers pitched fantastic,” said A’s manager John Schiffner. “You give up one run in nine innings, they did an outstanding job. We’ve got to get a few more hits.”
Offensively, Chatham (15-25-1) failed to string together more than two base runners in an inning as they fell victim to a stellar pitching performance by a pair of Kettleers.
Gomez, who previously had only gone as far as three and two-thirds innings in CCBL starts, earned the win after turning in his longest appearance of the year. The Arizona right-hander threw six innings of shutout baseball, where he conceded just three hits and struck out six before Cotuit skipper Mike Roberts called on Erickson to keep the Anglers off the board in the seventh.
In three innings of relief, Erickson allowed two hits while striking out one. Both hurlers issued one walk a piece.
“[Gomez] was able to mix up three pitches, [and] throw them all for strikes, his changeup, curveball, and fastball,” said Jake Palomaki, one of five Anglers to record a hit in the affair. “First AB was a fastball to me, then he started off the second AB with a changeup, and the third AB with a curveball, when you can do that you’re going to be successful.”
Though the Anglers dropped a winnable game, they still have hope to make the playoffs, trailing the Brewster Whitecaps by three points. Brewster fell in Orleans on Sunday and now must play Yarmouth-Dennis before finishing the season with a home-and-home series against first-place Harwich.
Chatham will look to get back in the win column and scratch together crucial points when they take on Falmouth Monday at 7 p.m. at Veterans Field. Check out all the action, including the Anglers Extra Pregame Show 20 minutes before first pitch, on the Cape Cod Baseball Network.