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CHATHAM — Drew Mendoza (Florida State) has struggled to lift off in Chatham. The projected first-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft was 4-for-27 on the summer entering Saturday and started the game on the bench.
But in the seventh, Mendoza got his chance. With runners on the corners and no outs, Mendoza pinch-hit for Adam Fogel (Hawaii). The left-handed hitter, who has struck out 12 times in 11 games for Chatham, belted a double that hit the left field fence on the fly, scoring Tristin English (Georgia Tech) and Michael Busch (North Carolina) to push the A’s lead from two to four.
A batter later, Mendoza swiped third on a wild pitch, and after that, strolled home on a Colin Simpson (Oklahoma State) single. The three-run seventh-inning run powered by Mendoza gave Chatham (10-9-2) crucial insurance runs in a 9-6 win over the Harwich Mariners (11-11-1). The victory snaps the A’s two-game scoreless skid and marks their third win over the Mariners this summer.
Holliday credited the players for the improved offensive outing.
“I honestly think that some of the guys are doing some self-examining about this striking out all the time and getting fooled at home plate all the time,” Holliday said. “No more home run swings.”
For the first time in three days, the Anglers scored a run, and it was worked by the middle of the lineup. Consecutive base hits from Kyle McCann (Georgia Tech) and Ben Ramirez (Southern California) and a walk from Rankin Woley (Auburn) loaded the bases before the Mariners recorded an out in the bottom of the second.
Blake Sabol (Southern California), the next batter, popped a shallow fly ball to center field, and as soon as it hit the leather of Matt Gorski’s (Indiana) glove, McCann dashed from third. The Chatham designated hitter scampered across home plate without sliding, narrowly avoiding the tag and giving the home team an early one-run advantage.
But Harwich didn’t stay behind for long. The visitors replicated Chatham’s run-scoring blueprint from a half-inning before, using back-to-back singles to open the frame before Aaron Schunk (Georgia) dropped a bloop single into shallow center, scoring Ben Norman (Iowa).
After Conlon conceded the tying run, A’s pitching coach Dennis Cook strolled to the mound to inform Conlon his day was done. The right-hander was replaced by Spencer Van Scoyoc (Arizona State) after facing just 12 batters in 2.1 innings while striking out two and allowing two runs.
“That was a was just an empty outing,” Holliday said about Conlon. “He fought in his 2 and 1/3, but you know he just had average stuff.”
Andre Lipcius (Tennessee) — the first batter Van Scoyoc faced — drove in Harwich’s second run with a sacrifice fly. After jumping out to its first lead since its last game against the Mariners on July 3, the A’s were forced to do what it couldn’t in their last two games against the Orleans Firebirds: come back.
In the bottom of the fourth, Chatham did just that. And again, it was the middle of the lineup that spurred the runs. A Busch single and Ramirez walk set up Sabol, who laced a two-RBI single to right field to recapture the lead. Sabol ended up on third base after a throwing error by Harwich catcher Logan Driscoll (George Mason) and stole home two batters later.
“As summer's gone on the game is starting to slow down a little bit,” Sabol said. “I'm trying to read some pitches out of the hand. I'm just trying to put a good swing on it and not try to do too much.”
The success of the middle of the order carried over to the top as the A’s added three more runs. Chatham leadoff hitter Greg Jones (UNC Wilmington) tacked on an RBI single before John Rave (Illinois State) reached base via error, bringing Jones home from second to extend the Anglers’ lead to four.
Jones’ slide into home was an awkward one, and it resulted in his departure from the game with a wrist injury. The speedster dove head-first into the plate, lifting his entire body off the ground. As soon as he got to his feet, Jones grabbed his wrist and was immediately replaced by Branden Fryman (Samford) to start the fifth inning.
But the visitors wouldn’t stay quiet, as the top of the Mariners’ order gave Van Scoyoc trouble in the fifth inning. A Tanner Morris (Virginia) one-out double followed by two walks loaded the bases for Harwich. Lipcius, the next batter, cracked a line-drive at Busch, who snagged the ball on what he thought was the fly before stepping on first to double up Schunk.
Instead, home plate umpire Rick Emerson determined the ball was fielded on the short hop, extending the inning and counting the run that crossed the plate during the play. Harwich added another run as Gorski stole home on a Zach King (Vanderbilt), who relieved Van Scoyoc with two outs, wild pitch to reduce the deficit to two.
Mendoza’s long ball and run scored ended up putting the game out of reach for the Mariners, but the visitors wouldn’t go down without putting on the pressure. Lipcius launched a two-run shot over the left field fence to make it a three-run game but failed to get any closer.
The Anglers led off five of their eight innings with a base hit and used aggressive baserunning to put runners in scoring position. In the second, fourth and seventh innings, the leadoff batter who reached base ended up scoring. Nine different A’s tallied hits while eight scored runs.
“The last couple days have been kind of a rough patch for us,” Sabol said. “We know what we're capable of and I think today it was definitely a confidence boost.”