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Chatham, Mass. — You could feel it in the air. An urgency, a grit that ticked away like an engine. A thirst for victory that made every movement sharp, brisk in the fading light.
On a cold and cloudy evening in Chatham, the Anglers (20-20) took the field against the Harwich Mariners (13-26-1) determined.
Manager John Schiffner had been honored for his twenty-five year leadership of the Anglers prior to the game, in a ceremony featuring former players, coaches and officials.
“I was so humbled, so thankful, grateful of everyone who made the effort to come here from a long distance,” Schiffner said. “That was really, really special.”
Schiffner exited the field to an ovation from the audience, taking his hat off and waving to the masses in acknowledgment.
“I was trying to pitch my best so we could get a win for Schiff tonight,” said starting pitcher Jack Perkins (Stetson). “I really wanted that to be special for him.”
After the game kicked off, it was not long until Chatham showed their aggressive side. The team took advantage of a pair of messy Harwich performances in the second, erasing the Mariners’ early lead.
An error on right fielder Kyle Baker’s (Delaware) sacrifice bunt attempt plated first baseman Nick Patten (Delaware), and catcher Cody Roberts (North Carolina) scored on a wild pitch to a frenzy of shouts from the dugout. Second baseman Jake Palomaki (Boston College) knocked in a run on a sacrifice fly in the fourth, giving Chatham some room to breathe.
The Anglers stayed ahead until the eighth, when Cobie Vance (Alabama Tuscaloosa) knocked in a run on a bases-loaded single, yielding a tie of three.
The tension nearly buckled under its weight in the bottom of the ninth, as rows of Anglers stood to attention in the dugout with their caps turned upwards in anticipation of a rally.
Catcher Cody Roberts (North Carolina) leapt out on a leadoff single, edging closer and closer to home plate. But two stubborn outs sent the teams into extra frames.
It was too easy. An error sent Jake McCarthy (Virginia) home to a feverish greeting from the Harwich dugout in the tenth.
The Anglers clawed their way back to victory. But despite putting two in scoring position, they remained quiet.
“We just left too many men on base again, just couldn’t get the guys through,” Schiffner said. “It wasn’t our best night offensively, but we did what the coaches want your players to do … we had the winning run on in the last inning. You can’t ask for any more than that.”
On the mound, Perkins kept it steady, allowing one earned run and striking out six over five innings.
“The first inning when they scored I was behind a lot, and after that I was just trying to get ahead and throw as many strikes early as possible,” Perkins said. “I was feeling my curveball a lot — I had a good feel for that tonight.”
The most gritty duel of the evening occurred in the ninth, when Josiah Gray (Le Moyne) fought a fifteen-pitch battle with Antoine Duplantis (Louisiana State). Gray had stepped in for Adam Wolf (Louisville) to a loaded diamond in the top of the eighth, shutting down the Mariners to keep it scoreless.
Rodney Hutchison (North Carolina) and Andre Pallante (California Irvine) also made appearances on the mound. Pallante lowered the curtain on the evening in the tenth.
“Momentum would have helped — we just didn’t get any breaks and we watched the other team get about nine breaks,” Schiffner said. “We broke three bats, and they got three base hits on three broken bats — your pitchers did a great job when that happens.”
The Anglers close out the series against the Mariners at Whitehouse Field, Harwich Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.