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HARWICH — Prior to Tuesday, all Michael Busch (North Carolina) had done in an Anglers uniform was take infield and batting practice. The first baseman’s college season lasted until June 20, and it wasn’t until Tuesday morning that he was activated. Less than 12 hours later, Busch made his first mark on the Cape League.
The Anglers faced a one-run deficit in the top of the sixth, but were generating a rally and had a runner on second. On the second pitch of his at-bat, Busch pulled a Joe La Sorsa (St. John’s) fastball just over the right-field fence for his first hit as a Chatham player. The long ball put the A’s up by one and spurred a six-run inning.
“I felt good at the plate,” Busch said. “He gave me a fastball that ran a little in, and I happened to get a barrel on it and hoped it stayed fair, and it did.”
Chatham’s (9-7-2) offensive explosion propelled a comeback win over the Harwich Mariners (9-10-1), 13-6, on a clear night at Whitehouse Field. The victory put the A’s back in the win column after Sunday’s extra-inning, walk-off loss to Cotuit, and marked their second-straight win after an off day.
“You start wondering, what's when's this team going to come together as a team'” Holliday said about his reaction to falling behind. “And then the way they responded, and scored, and hit some balls really hard. We actually hit a lot of hard outs. It was a really good offense night.”
For the first time since June 21 against Hyannis, Chatham scored a run in the first inning, and it used a bit of luck to do so.
After John Rave (Illinois State) advanced to third on a wild throw to second base by Harwich catcher Mason Meadows (Georgia), Drew Mendoza (Florida State) drove in the first run of the game with a single to left field. Mendoza’s dribbler should have been gobbled up by Danny Casals (Maine), but the shortstop — who was running to cover second base because Tristin English (Georgia Tech) was stealing on the pitch — was wrongfooted and allowed the ball to trickle into the outfield.
Blake Sabol (Southern California), the next batter, chopped a routine ground ball to first base, but Andre Lipcius (Tennessee) lost it in the sun and ducked out of the way. English strolled home with ease to double Chatham’s lead.
Anglers’ starting pitcher Kyle Hurt (Southern California) tossed a hitless first two frames before the Mariners broke through in the third.
Against Harwich’s bottom three hitters, Hurt allowed two walks and a single to load the bases. Then, leadoff batter Chris Galland (Boston College) roped a two-RBI double down the right-field line that was inches away from being a go-ahead grand slam. Ben Norman (Iowa) and Aaron Schunk (Georgia) each added runs with a sacrifice fly and double, respectively, to give the home team a two-run advantage.
Hurt’s day lasted three innings, as Jeff Belge (St. John’s) relieved the right-hander to open the fourth frame.
The A’s were denied a third run in the top of the fourth when a Sabol and Ashton McGee (North Carolina) double steal failed. When Harwich’s Meadows flung the ball the second to catch McGee, Sabol started off of third. Mariners second baseman Nate Eikhoff (Virginia) caught it and immediately fired home, where Sabol was tagged out.
An RBI single from Matt Gorski (Indiana) gave Harwich its fifth run of the night, but Chatham chipped away at its deficit a half-inning later. After Jorge Arenas (Stetson) singled to open the frame, Rave tripled to center field for his second extra-base hit of the game. Ben Ramirez (Southern California) poked one through to right field two pitches later, scoring Rave to reduce the Mariners’ lead to one.
“It's one of those things where, when you score, hitting can be contagious and it unlocks everything,” Holliday said.
Chatham’s bats came out scorching hot in the sixth inning. Sabol and Colin Simpson (Oklahoma State) reached base to start the inning. After Busch’s round-tripper, Rankin Woley (Auburn), Arenas and Rave filled the bases, setting up English.
English, fully entrenched as Chatham’s three-hitter following Spencer Torkelson’s (Arizona State) departure, crushed a grand slam over the right-field fence for his fourth home run in six games. The no-doubter topped off a five-hit, six-run inning that put the A’s up by five.
“It felt good, especially in that kind of situation in the game where we kind of hurting to get some runs,” English said about his grand slam. “Some guys got on, and he hung a breaking ball for me.”
In his first game back from the College Home Run Derby, Kyle McCann (Georgia Tech) drove home the Anglers’ 11th run of the night with a line-drive double down the right-field line. Arenas followed up with his second RBI of the season, scoring Busch on a sacrifice fly. Chatham added its 13th run in the eighth when Busch was hit-by-a-pitch with the bases juiced.
Belge and Greg Veliz (Miami) handled the final six innings, tossing a combined 10 strikeouts while allowing four hits.
Holliday again shook up the lineup from the previous game. The activation of Busch pushed English to right field. Holliday granted Greg Jones (UNC Wilmington) his first off day of the season, while Rave was re-inserted into the leadoff spot after not starting the last two games.
Whenever Holliday inserted a bench player into the game, they made an impact. The A’s skipper used a season-high seven substitutions on Tuesday, and 14 of 17 Chatham players got on base.
“And if you're not in the lineup, that doesn't mean you got a night off,” Holliday said. “I'm going to play every guy that we got in order to win a ballgame.”