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BREWSTER — Chatham manager Tom Holliday strongly believes in fundamentally-sound baseball. Although the Anglers went without a win in its first two games, several players who were not threats to swipe bags during the college season have been active on the basepaths. Of 13 Cape League players with a stolen base in the young season, four are Chatham A’s.
“The fact is when the ball's in the dirt, if a baserunner is in the game, he's got to go get an extra base,” Holliday said. “So many times, kids lose track of that. To win baseball games, you have to play it the way it's designed.”
On Thursday, it was aggressive baserunning to open the game that gave Chatham (1-1-1) its first lead of the season, one it would never give up as it defeated Brewster (0-2), 8-0, on a cloudy afternoon at Stony Brook Field, giving the A’s their first win of the Holliday era.
With Colin Simpson (Oklahoma State) on first and Greg Jones (UNC-Wilmington) on second, it took just two wild pitches from Brewster’s Steve Theetge (Bryant) for the A’s get on the board.
On Theetge’s second wild pitch, the ball ricocheted off Brewster catcher Jarrod Huber’s (Stephen F. Austin) chest protector and dribbled five feet to his right. By the time Huber retrieved the ball and started back to home plate, Jones had already glided home from third without needing to slide.
Alongside Chatham’s most explosive offensive performance of the season was its most dominant pitching outing. Starting pitcher Cody Bradford’s (Baylor) transition from collegiate ball to Cape League play proved seamless. The Big 12 Pitcher of the Year showed poise and control on the mound. The left-hander tossed four scoreless innings, allowing two base-knocks and tallying six strikeouts while walking just one.
Despite Bradford’s dominance, Holliday held steady to his plan of limiting starting pitchers to four innings of work. Right-hander Hunter Gaddis (Georgia State) replaced Bradford to begin the fifth and posted a near-identical stat line with four innings of work, two hits and three punch outs.
Bradford said much of his comfort on the mound comes from the run support he receives from his teammates.
“It calms any pitcher down, especially when it's in the first inning,” Bradford said. “It lets the pitcher go out there and focus on his job, which is throwing strikes.”
Bradford wasn’t the only player to channel his form from the spring season. Spencer Torkelson (Arizona State), Division I’s home run leader, cracked a three-run opposite-field home run in the fifth to give the visitors a 5-0 lead.
The rising sophomore has struggled to lift off on the Cape so far, batting .182 with two hits and four strikeouts thus far, but finally broke through on Thursday will his first long ball of the year.
“Home runs always break the ice,” Holliday said. “That's the quickest way to score. You get a three-run shot in a wooden bat league with the arms I've seen, a three-run lead is big. Now you don't need to worry about mistakes."
Torkelson’s homer opened the floodgates, as the A’s tacked on three more runs in the final four innings. In the eighth, Ben Ramirez (USC) drove in Chatham’s sixth run on a groundout and John Rave (Illinois State) roped a two RBI single to center, extending the visitor’s lead to eight.
After a blowout loss and a frustrating tie in its first two games, the Anglers finally broke through thanks to top performances on both sides of the ball. While Bradford said the team will not get too high on the win, it certainly came as a morale booster.
“It loosens everyone up,” Bradford said. “I think we'll come out tomorrow and play some good baseball.”
Chatham will resume play on Friday at 7 p.m. when it faces the Brewster Whitecaps for the second-straight game, this time at Veterans Field.