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Chatham, Mass. — The Anglers begin their quest for a sixth title today by squaring off with the Harwich Mariners in Game 1 of the East Division Series at 6 p.m. Chatham (17-26-1) snagged the final playoff spot in the East by winning three of their last five games down the stretch, overtaking the Brewster Whitecaps.
Harwich (27-15-2) comes into the playoffs winners of the East Division crown after winning seven of their last ten games to move past a surging Yarmouth-Dennis team. Against Chatham this season, the Mariners have gone 4-1-1, including a 10-0 no hitter at Veterans Field back on July 27.
At the Plate: A late addition to the team, Mason Koppens has flourished since arriving in Chatham. The Northeastern University product has reached base in all six games he has appeared in, while scoring five runs and driving in another. Koppens was instrumental in Chatham’s win over Y-D on July 30, where the outfielder accounted for three of the Anglers' six runs and went 2-for-5.
“He’s a grinder,” said Jake Palomaki of Koppens. “He just finds ways to get on base. Does the little things right, he’s fun to play with. He’s fast, lays down bunts when you need him to, just does the little things right. He’s great to have in the two hole.”
Koppens’ abilities on the base paths and in the batters box have made him a valued commodity for an Anglers team that has been thriving at the top of the order. Manager John Schiffner has kept Koppens batting second for the A’s, sandwiched between Palomaki and DJ Artis. Though Koppens has been in Chatham for just six games, Schiffner has seen value in him, calling the speedy sophomore a sparkplug for the team’s surging offense.
Like he has done all season, Ernie Clement will look to lead the Harwich offense in the opening game of the 2016 postseason. The CCBL MVP put together a stellar year offensively for the Mariners, hitting at a .353 average – best in the East Division.
Against the Anglers this season, Clement has compiled a .407 average and has scored four runs, driven in two, and has stolen four bases.
On the Rubber: Simon Mathews (1-3) gets the nod as tonight’s starter for the Anglers, as the Georgetown righty looks to enact some revenge against Harwich. In his last start, Mathews was touched for five earned runs on eleven hits in five and a third innings against the Mariners. However, six of the 16 batters Mathews retired came on strikeouts.
On the season, Mathews has been one of Schiffner’s most consistent starters. In five starts for the Anglers, the six-foot-two right-hander has tossed at least five innings all but once. Mathews has made eight total appearances for Chatham this summer and has given up four or more runs only twice. In 31 and a third innings pitched, Mathews has notched 23 strikeouts while issuing six walks.
The Mariners will send All-Star hurler Hunter Williams (2-2) to the mound, looking for the UNC product to return to form against the Anglers.
In his last outing, Williams earned the win over Chatham despite being tagged for four unearned runs across five innings. The towering southpaw allowed six hits in the affair – the most Williams has allowed in an outing all season. The Mariners’ offense bailed out Williams by orchestrating a six-run comeback to upend the Anglers at Whitehouse Field.
In his previous two starts, Williams tossed 14 combined innings, conceding one run while allowing five hits and striking out ten. However, Harwich fell in both contests as they failed to score any runs.
Down the Road: Chatham returns to Veterans Field for Game Two of the East Division Series tomorrow at 7 p.m. If a Game Three is necessary, Harwich and Chatham will head back to Whitehouse Field on Sunday for the deciding contest at 5:30 p.m.
Make sure to tune in at 6:00 p.m. today for the Anglers Extra Pregame Show on the Cape Cod Baseball Network. Evan Stockton will introduce you to his Catch of the Day while Jake Eisenberg sits down with manager John Schiffner.
The full broadcast of today’s game is available online and over the phone at 1-800-846-4700, code 3481. Visit Broadcast Central for more details.