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WAREHAM — The Chatham Anglers have had trouble against the Wareham Gatemen this season. On opening day, the A’s allowed 12 runs to the Gatemen, the most they’ve allowed all season. On June 19, the post-off day blues hit Chatham as they fell to Wareham, 6-3.
On both occasions, the A’s were not at their best. The opening day game marked the first time a group of players from colleges all around the country played together, and manager Tom Holliday’s primary concern was getting to know the team and formulate the best lineup. In its second loss, the Anglers were coming off their first off day of the season, a game where Holliday called the team’s effort “sluggish.”
On Wednesday, similar factors led to a familiar result. The Anglers (6-6-2) were bested by the Gatemen (10-6), 7-3, suffering their third-straight loss. A lack of energy, Holliday said, along with the inability to put out a lineup that consistently produces runs has been the downfall of the team in recent games.
"When these guys play this kind of baseball, [Wareham pitcher Joseph] Matulovich could've been Joe Smith, it didn't matter,” Holliday said. “Our battle right now is identifying strikes to swing at. Were a little hung up on wood bat power.”
Coming into Wednesday, starter Hunter Gaddis (Georgia State) was one of three A’s pitchers without a run allowed on the season. But, his scoreless inning streak ended quickly as Wareham hopped out to an early lead, and Sahid Valenzuela (Cal State Fullerton) was the catalyst.
Valenzuela singled and later came home from second on a Lael Lockhart (Houston) RBI single in the first inning. After Gaddis pelted Jeremy Ydens (UCLA) with the bases loaded to bring in Wareham’s second run a frame later, Valenzuela roped a two-RBI base knock up the middle to put the home team up four.
Gaddis’ day ended before he could record an out in the second inning, as Troy Miller (Michigan) began trotting in from the bullpen beyond the left-field fence at Clem Spillane Field once the Gatemen lead reached four.
Matulovich (California), Wareham’s opening day starter at Veterans Field, made his second start of the summer against Chatham. The right-hander tossed five innings for the Gatemen, allowing one run and striking out six.
"I think [Matulovich] was better against us today than he was opening day,” Tristin English (Georgia Tech) said. “I think he was a little more polished in terms of fastball velocity and command. It was a tough loss to take because we'd already seen him once."
Despite facing a five-run deficit through two innings, the A’s bats were making noise. A double from Blake Sabol (USC) put runners on second and third with two outs in the second, but the next batter, Ben Ramirez (USC), struck out swinging. Chatham broke through in the third as English brushed the chalk down the third-base line with a double that brought home Jorge Arenas (Stetson).
Wareham’s lead grew to six in the bottom of the fourth, as Bryant Packard (East Carolina) sent a two-run long ball beyond the right-field fence and into the Gatemen bullpen.
Matulovich was replaced by Nathan Florence (Hartford) after five, and the A’s pounced. Jones provided the spark, ripping a leadoff home run in a near-identical spot to Packard’s, giving the visitors their second run of the game. On the next pitch, English followed up with a solo-shot of his own, his second in as many games. But the Anglers dugout didn’t celebrate back-to-back home runs in the usual fashion, as they still faced a four-run deficit.
“We're trying to put together a rally, and its home run or nothing,” Holliday said. “We need to use wood for base hits.”
Holliday made several changes to the batting order after Tuesday’s loss to Falmouth. John Rave (Illinois State) and Greg Jones (UNC Wilmington) — Chatham’s one- and two-hitters — were the only ones to bat in the same slot as Tuesday while the rest of the order was shuffled. Drew Mendoza (Florida State) and Austin Wilhite (Georgia Tech), who went a combined 0-for-5 with four strikeouts on Tuesday, were dropped and replaced by Adam Fogel (Hawaii) and Jorge Arenas (Stetson).
Holliday admitted the A’s need to continue “figuring things out”, such as working with wood bats and having good at-bats, before settling into an everyday lineup.
“The whole season, we've been shuffled around and stuff,” Sabol said.”...hopefully, we find a rhythm and can eventually figure out a solid lineup. It's always easier when you know your role.”