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Chatham, Mass. — The Anglers enter Game 3 of the East Division Series tonight in a familiar place. With their backs against the wall, Chatham must win or see its season come to an end at the hands of the Harwich Mariners.
Nine days ago, Chatham (18-27-1) fell to Harwich (28-16-2) and appeared to have their postseason hopes dashed after falling five points out of playoff contention with five games to go. However, the Anglers never gave up, as they strung together three wins in their final five games to vault themselves into the postseason.
Now, in order to keep their season alive, the Anglers must overcome Harwich at Whitehouse Field a day removed from losing to the Mariners 13-1.
“We’ve had to do this before, it’s nothing different,” said Jake Palomaki of his team’s fortitude and ability to fight through adversity. “We’ll just do the same thing we’ve been doing all year and comeback and try to play like we did on Friday.”
At the Plate: The top of the order has been the offensive catalyst for the Anglers down the stretch, thanks to the ability of Palomaki, Mason Koppens, and DJ Artis to get on base. In this series, Palomaki and Koppens have registered a combined seven hits in 14 at-bats, each scoring a run, while Palomaki has collected one of Chatham’s three RBIs.
Though Artis has one hit in the EDS, the outfielder has the ability to heat up at any moment, as the Liberty Flame has reached base in 13 of his last 15 contests. In that span, Artis has stockpiled 18 hits, 11 runs, seven RBIs, seven walks, and four doubles.
Both Palomaki and Koppens enter tonight’s deciding matchup with streaks of their own. A plucky leadoff man from Boston College, Palomaki has a knack for finding ways to get on base. Coming into Game 3, the infielder is riding a four game hitting streak, while reaching base in six straight contests.
Koppens, a late addition to the Anglers from nearby Northeastern University, has also found multiple ways to get on base since joining the team on July 29. The outfielder has reached in all eight games he’s appeared in and has amassed nine hits in that span.
The Mariners will rely on its power hitters to help carry them through to the next round. All-Star Pavin Smith has been dominant at the plate this postseason, recording a mammoth .714 batting average by going 5-for-7. The University of Virginia product has driven in two runs for Harwich in this series, including an RBI double that fell just short of being a homerun in the ninth inning of Game 1.
On the Mound: With the season on the line, manager John Schiffner will turn to Kansas State southpaw Parker Rigler (0-4) to get the job done for the A's.
“He’s got to go out and calm down these bats,” said the skipper of his Game 3 starter. “Parker is going to have to do it changing speeds, keeping them off balance, pitching backwards, trying to throw ground balls, and we’ll se if we can keep it close and get after their pitcher.”
This season, Rigler has compiled a 4.03 ERA, though that statistic is largely inflated due to one poor outing against Hyannis in mid-July. If you take out that one start, where Rigler conceded eight runs in two and two-thirds innings, his ERA would sit at 1.71, which would be the lowest of any active Chatham starter.
T hough he has yet to record a win as a member of the Anglers, Rigler has often fallen victim to a lack of run support by his team. In all five of Rigler’s starts, the Anglers have scored ten combined runs – though nine of them came in the 11-9 loss to Hyannis on July 17. With the exception of that outing against the Harbor Hawks, Rigler has allowed ten total runs across four starts – an average of two and a half runs per game.
Today, as Rigler gears up to face a potent Harwich lineup, the lefty aims to put into action the lessons he’s learned from both his last start against the Mariners as well as from fellow pitcher Simon Mathews, who kept the Harwich bats quiet in Game 1.
“[Simon] talked about attacking the strike zone and mixing in some off-speed, and just keeping them off balance like you would do anybody else,” said Rigler. “They’re a pretty aggressive swinging team, so if you throw a lot of strikes they’re going to put the ball in play. I trust my defense behind me and if we can do that, we’ll be in good shape.”
Packy Naughton (3-0) will oppose Rigler as he tries to send the Mariners into the East Championship Series. In seven starts this year, Naughton has worked a 1.68 ERA and has struck out 42 batters in 42 and two-thirds innings pitched. On average, the Virginia Tech lefty pitches for about six innings per start.
His shortest appearance on the season came back on July 2 in his only outing against the Anglers. In that contest, Chatham struck for two runs on five hits in the four and two-thirds innings that Naughton threw. After chasing the freshman from the game, the Anglers went on to defeat Harwich 4-2 at Veterans Field.
Down the Road: A Chatham victory would propel them to the East Championship Series against the two-time defending champion Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox tomorrow at Red Wilson Field. However, if the Anglers were to fall to Harwich, Chatham’s season would come to an end.
Make sure to tune in at 5:00 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.