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Chatham, Mass. — With the game tied 1-1 on Tuesday night, Donovan Casey stood on deck as the leadoff man for the Chatham Anglers in the bottom of the eleventh inning. Casey had struck out four times as manager John Schiffner approached him and offered words of consolation.
“I said ‘just keep your head down, you’re pulling off the ball a little bit, drive it to the gap some place,’” said Schiffner.
Casey took his manager’s words to heart as the Boston College outfielder hammered the fourth pitch he saw over the fence in deep left field to give the Anglers the 2-1 win over the rival Orleans Firebirds.
“Honestly [I was] just looking for a fastball, I missed the first one,” said Casey. “I’m glad that I got the opportunity to go up there even though I was 0-for-4 and I’m glad that he trusted in me to come through.”
The win puts the Anglers (17-25-1) in fourth place in the East Division, where a win tomorrow, or a Brewster loss, will send them to the playoffs. Orleans (19-23-1) shoulders its third loss at Veterans Field this summer and now will head back to Eldredge Park to host the Anglers tomorrow at 7 p.m.
Chatham’s pitching was once again the story on Tuesday night as six Angler hurlers appeared in the one-run victory. Moises Ceja (2-2) earned the win after tossing three shutout innings of relief while Lincoln Henzman started the game for the Anglers.
Henzman, the Louisville right-hander, tossed five plus innings, where he allowed one run on six hits and struck out five. The Anglers pitching combined for 11 strikeouts on the night as only two Firebirds recorded hits after Henzman was lifted in the sixth inning.
“That was as good of a game as you can play right there,” said Schiffner. “We made tremendous defensive plays, had tremendous pitching, obviously had the clutch hit, got nine hits. . . .we just aired it out and that’s what you get in return. The defense played behind those guys, they were throwing strikes, that was a great game.”
Kit Scheetz (0-2) took the loss for the Firebirds after dishing out the homerun pitch to Casey.
The Chatham offense got crucial hits from some of its biggest leaders as Kyle Adams and Jeremy Vasquez both recorded multi-hit games. Vasquez drove in Hagen Owenby to tie the game up for the A’s in the sixth while Adams reached base three times thanks to three hits in four at-bats.
“I think it’s just staying aggressive and being confident,” said Adams of his recent two-game hitting streak. “We’ve had some tough breaks through the month of July, guys lining out, hitting balls hard just right at people. I think it’s just coming out every single day and keep working and knowing that some balls are going to fall. Luckily, I’ve been able to get some balls to find holes the past couple of days.”
After watching his team fall into a first inning deficit, Vasquez evened the score for the Anglers by crushing an RBI double to centerfield in the sixth inning. Owenby scored easily from third base on the blast as it bounced off the wall near the 357 sign. The RBI was Vasquez’s third in two games as the Angler has reached on five hits in seven at-bats for Chatham in August.
“I haven’t changed that much,” said the University of Florida infielder. “I feel like I’ve been putting good swings on it all summer. It’s just these balls are starting to fall now. . . .I wanted to jump on the fastball and I got blown up on the first pitch so I figured he was going to come back to it sooner or later and try to blow me away again so I was just ready for it and I buried it.”
The Firebirds drew first blood in the top of the first inning thanks to a single by Riley Mahan with men on first and second. After Adam Hasley doubled to left with two outs, Henzman walked Riley Adams before Mahan stroked one past a diving Jake Palomaki.
Orleans threatened again in the top of the sixth with runners on second and third and one out. Chatham brought the infield in before Mike Fitzgerald got Will Golsan to groundout to shortstop for the second out. After Schiffner lifted Fitzgerald in favor of lefty Connor Moore, Ethan Paul flew out to center to end the threat.
Isaac Mattson made a relief appearance for the Anglers, tossing an inning of shutout baseball while allowing just one hit. Mattson’s day started on a literal high note as the University of Pittsburgh righty sang the National Anthem – much to the bewilderment of Schiffner and the rest of his teammates.
“That was awesome, that took a lot to do,” laughed Schiffner. “He’s cool as a cucumber on the mound and he was able to belt that out with no problems whatsoever.”
Mattson had a full day for the Anglers as he sang, pitched an inning in relief, and received the Anglers’ Most Outstanding Player Award before the game for his selfless hours of volunteering.
Chatham is now in control of its own destiny on Wednesday as they head to Eldredge Park to finish off their home-and-home series with the Firebirds. If the Anglers win in their regular season finale, or Brewster loses to Harwich, then Chatham will qualify for the playoffs as the final seed in the East Division. Catch all the action on Wednesday, starting with the Anglers Extra Pregame Show at 6:40 p.m., on the Cape Cod Baseball Network.