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FALMOUTH — When the Chatham Anglers faced the Falmouth Commodores’ Spencer Strider on June 26, the right-hander was lights out. Strider allowed one run on two hits in five innings of work, striking out eight A’s batters in a 4-2 Commodores win.
On Tuesday, the Anglers solved Strider’s formula. Four-straight first-inning singles from Blake Sabol (Southern California), Michael Busch (North Carolina), Kyle McCann (Georgia Tech) and Drew Mendoza (Florida State) gave Chatham a two-run lead before the Commodores had an at-bat.
“Scoring first is so much more of a relief,” A’s Holliday said. “Especially against wood. It's hard to score runs because it's going to take base hits.”
But the visitors didn’t stop there. In the second inning, a Jorge Arenas (Stetson) walk and John Rave (Illinois State) single put runners on first and second for Sabol. The utility man, who came into Tuesday with three hits and four RBI in his last four games, blasted a three-run shot over the right-field wall to put Chatham up by five.
“There are just some balls that are falling for me and ones that still find a place where they're not playing,” Sabol said. “I'm taking it one out at a time. I'm not trying to take up the whole collective unit.”
The Anglers (12-11-2) used its early flurry of runs to down the Commodores (11-13-1), 7-2, completing the doubleheader sweep and boosting its record back above .500. The pair of wins were timely for the A’s, who had lost four of their last five contests.
The Anglers continued to make Strider’s life difficult with patient at-bats. In the third inning, Mendoza, Colin Simpson (Oklahoma State) and Rankin Woley (Auburn) were walked after working full counts. After loading the bases, Strider was pulled for AJ Block (Washington State) who struck out Rave to end the inning.
As the afternoon progressed, the A’s kept piling on baserunners. In the fourth, Sabol singled and McCann walked to put runners on the corners for Simpson. The lefty, who came into Tuesday with a .127 batting average, sliced an RBI single to left field to extend the Chatham lead to five.
“Even with all these pitchers, you have to remember a lot of them aren't used to getting hit around,” Sabol said. “They wouldn't be here if they were getting hit around back at school. So a lot of them don't pitch as well when they have runners on base.”
An inning later, Woley and Sabol walked to set up Busch, the three-hitter, with two outs. Busch grounded the ball to Falmouth third baseman Cameron Cannon (Auburn), whose throw to first skipped to the fence enabling Woley to score.
Kyle Hurt (Southern California) posted another solid performance in his fourth start of the campaign. The right-hander surrendered four hits and two runs in his longest outing of the summer at five innings.
Hurt held the home team scoreless for four innings before they mustered two runs in the fifth. The home team quickly loaded the bases before Hurt recorded an out. After an Austin Langworthy (Florida) single and Will Brennan (Kansas State) fielder’s choice, the Commodores had two runs on the board.
Despite having a similar stat line, Hurt said he built on his last appearance against the Commodores when he threw 4.1 innings in relief and conceded two runs on June 26.
“I just had confidence in myself,” Hurt said. “I always have to trust my defense behind me, go at kids with intent and just attack the zone.”
Simpson, who previously said catcher is his favorite position, made his Cape League debut behind the plate. The Oklahoma State product made several stops in the dirt and allowed no passed balls. Busch, who has been Chatham’s go-to first baseman since his arrival on June 3, started game two at second base and made some impressive defense plays.
“I’ll tell you one thing, Tank can catch. I mean he did it all year so today was kind of getting fresh legs in the lineup and behind the plate,” Holliday said. “Now Busch playing second, he said he could do it. I was like ‘let's do it’ because we got dead legs and no infielders.”
Four Anglers players tallied an RBI while seven registered a hit. The visitors were not retired in order in game two, and had six or more batters in five of seven innings. Falmouth’s three pitchers combined to walk the A’s nine times in the contest.
“We got two wins and there's only one thing to say, I mean our pitching did their job today,” Holliday said. “The relievers came in did really well and the starters were really good. That's successful winning.”