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Chatham, Mass. — The path to victory is never singular, but manifold. It is a living, beating display of minute battles, decisions made in fleeting moments that melt into one another. The simple fervor of a pitch, a swing in a complex, ever-extending series.
As a pink sunset fell over Veterans Field, the Anglers (19-19) fought to stay ahead of then West Division leaders, the Falmouth Commodores (19-18-1).
Center fielder Mason Koppens (Northeastern) and left fielder Josh Stowers (Louisville) capitalized in the bottom of the second, taking the lead for Chatham.
Falmouth had claimed an early advantage, when a bases-loaded walk of Austin Langworthy (Florida) sent Josh Breaux (McLennan) home in the top of the second.
It was tight. But the Anglers were able to tease out enough offense to demand a victory.
Stowers sent right fielder Kyle Baker (Delaware) home on a single in the fourth inning, and first baseman John Aiello (Wake Forest) hit the sweet spot with a home run to right field in the ninth.
“Again, [we had] clutch hitting,” said manager John Schiffner. “Going into the last inning with a two-run lead is far better than a one run lead.”
Relief pitcher Joe Lienhard (Oklahoma State) paralysed an aggressive Falmouth side, striking out six over five scoreless frames.
“Joe Lienhard just did a fantastic job — he was a warrior tonight,” Schiffner said. “That just stopped everything and he just did a fantastic job, allowed us to come back.”
“I was just trying to throw zeros, and keep us in the ballgame,” Lienhard said. “We had the 2-1 lead when I went out there, so I was just trying to keep us right there.”
Thursday’s outing was Lienhard’s longest to date with the Anglers, topping his 3.2 frame performance against the Commodores July 19.
“I’ve been more used to throwing those longer outings back at school,” Lienhard said. “I’ve had some experience with it, so I wasn’t out of my element too much out there, but just trying to take it inning by inning.”
Lienhard stepped in for starter Dan Hammer (Pittsburgh) in the third. Hammer allowed one earned run over two innings.
Andre Pallante (California Irvine) emerged victorious from an eight-pitch battle with Trevor Larnach (Oregon State) in the eighth, controlling Falmouth after a home run hiccup from Alec Bohm (Wichita State) brought the Commodores within one run of the Anglers.
Josiah Gray (Le Moyne) threw smoke in the final frame, keeping Falmouth off the basepaths with three consecutive strikeouts.
“It feels good. The team’s good right now and you know that’s key to get hot before the playoffs,” Lienhard said. “You make a little run, and you never know what can happen.”
The Anglers face the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (23-12-1) at Red Wilson Field, Yarmouth Friday. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.