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Chatham, Mass. — Caleb Gilbert had not started a game since he allowed seven runs across three innings against Yarmouth-Dennis on July 16. Entering last night’s contest, Gilbert (2-2) owned a 9.69 ERA and had to face a potent Falmouth lineup that featured the likes of JJ Matijevic.
Gilbert was acquainted with the Arizona infielder quickly, as Matijevic pumped the LSU righty's second pitch of the ballgame onto the hill past centerfield. Gilbert could have faltered, he could have fallen apart, but he didn’t. Instead, he turned in his best outing of the year, pitching seven innings, striking out seven, and allowing just two earned runs on three hits.
“I try to be as strong as I can on the mound,” said Gilbert. “When a guy steps into the box I have the mindset that I’m better than him and that he can’t beat me. . . .I’ve faced adversity this summer and throughout the year but I’m trying to overcome it and I knew I had the stuff to have a quality start tonight.”
Backed by Gilbert’s stellar outing, the Chatham Anglers (16-25-1) exploded for nine runs on Monday night to keep their postseason hopes alive as they upended the Falmouth Commodores (28-14), 9-3.
Gilbert, a highly touted pitcher about to enter his sophomore year at LSU, got the win after sitting down seven of the 26 Commodores he faced on strikes – the most strikeouts Gilbert has recorded in a game this summer.
“He could have crumbled after giving up a second pitch homerun and he didn’t and he battled,” said A’s manager John Schiffner of his starter. “He was excellent. Excellent job.”
Brady Puckett (5-1) took the loss for the first time this summer as Chatham tagged the Lipscomb left-hander for three runs in two innings.
DJ Artis and Jeremy Vasquez led the way for the Anglers offensively with four combined runs, including a two-run homerun by Vasquez in the third inning. Leading by one run with Artis on first base, Vasquez turned on a Puckett breaking ball and powered it onto the street, far past the right field fence.
“I was just trying to be aggressive,” said Vasquez, the University of Florida product. “He hung me a curveball and I just put a good swing on it and it went.”
Artis came across to score one more time following Vasquez’s bomb, this time on an aggressive dash to the plate in the fifth inning. With Artis on third following a single by Gunnar Troutwine, Falmouth’s Bryce Montes de Oca uncorked a wild pitch that rolled slightly past the lip of grass behind home plate. As the ball skittered behind catcher Matt Duce, Artis bolted down the third base line and slide in under the tag to give Chatham a four-run lead.
“We just had the opportunity to do it,” said Schiffner of his team’s aggressiveness on the base paths. “Yesterday we didn’t have many base runners. We had base runners today. They walked some guys, they made some errors, we got nine or ten hits.”
The Liberty Flame added to his team-leading RBI total by driving in Hunter Lee in the sixth. Back-to-back walks to Lee and Jake Palomaki began the inning before a Mason Koppens groundout advanced the runners. Then, on a 1-2 count, Artis poked an RBI single through the hole at shortstop to plate the High Point infielder. Gunnar Troutwine drove in Palomaki three pitches later by grounding out to short.
Mistakes were a common theme for the Commodores on Monday as three Anglers scored on wild pitches while another came around on a passed ball.
After Kyle Adams slapped an RBI groundout that scored Vasquez and tied the game in the second inning, a pair of wild pitches gave Chatham a 3-1 lead. With Donovan Casey standing at third, Puckett whipped a pitch that snuck past Duce and rolled to the backstop, which allowed the Boston College outfielder to trot home. John Aiello, who singled and moved to third on an error by shortstop Cadyn Grenier, came around on another wild pitch three batters later.
The Anglers exploded for nine runs in the contest and tied their season high for runs in a game one day removed from being shutout against Cotuit.
“A lot of guys were here for early work today,” said Vasquez, “I think we were just trying to get some good quality swings before the game and then into the game we had a good plan against the pitcher and then we just executed. . . .I think everything was clicking, which was nice and a lot of fun, but, overall I thought we swung the bat really well tonight.”
Michael McCormick came on to close out the ninth in his first appearance for the Anglers. The Eastern Illinois lefty earned his first save in the CCBL after loading the bases with one out.
With the win, the Anglers move to one point behind the Brewster Whitecaps for the East Division’s final playoff spot. With two games remaining, Chatham has to win one more than Brewster does in order to qualify. While the Whitecaps take on the first place Harwich Mariners in their last two contests, the Anglers will undergo a home-and-home series with the Orleans Firebirds as they hope to make a late playoff push.
“We all just felt really comfortable,” said Artis. “We said ‘Why not us',’ that’s the motive right now. I think we can keep it going.”