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Simpson sparks Chatham's 8-3 win over Harwich

by David Schneidman
Saturday, July 14, 2018

Simpson sparks Chatham's 8-3 win over Harwich

HARWICH — Blake Sabol (Southern California) has been a thorn in the side of Harwich Mariners all summer.

Prior to Saturday, Sabol was 5-for-8 with five RBIs in three games against the Mariners, all of which ended with Chatham wins. On July 7, the California native’s two-RBI double in the fourth inning put the Anglers ahead 3-2, a lead they continued to build on in an eventual 9-6 win.

Sabol’s hitting tear against Harwich continued Saturday. For the second-straight game, the CCBL All-Star put the A’s ahead with a second-inning solo-shot. Sabol smacked a Ty Buckner (Missouri State) fastball just below the dark green scoreboard beyond right field at Whitehouse Field.

“He turns the ball around, he beats it from the top side the way you're supposed to,” Holliday said about Sabol. “And he can run, so when he hits one in the gap it's a double or triple.”

The long ball marked the start of a two-inning scoring rampage by the A’s. Chatham (15-12-2) scored six runs in the second and third innings en route to an 8-3 victory over the Mariners (13-16-1) on a breezy night in Harwich. The Anglers earned their third-straight win and fourth victory of the season over the Mariners.

After surrendering the homer, things did not get any easier for Buckner. Drew Mendoza (Florida State) and Colin Simpson (Oklahoma State) smoked back-to-back singles before Jorge Arenas (Stetson) worked a walk to load the bases with two outs.

After pinning John Rave (Illinois State) with an 0-2 count, Buckner drilled the Chatham leadoff batter in the foot and forcing in a run. On the next pitch, Buckner slung the ball to the backstop allowing Simpson to score.

The A’s used a similar formula to push three more runs past the Mariners in the third inning. Sabol singled and stole second base, setting up Mendoza. The Florida State product roped a single to right field to drive in Sabol, then advanced to second on the throw home. Simpson cracked another single to score Mendoza before Arenas tacked on another RBI base knock two batters later.

“Since I've been here, I've been making minor adjustments to everything,” Simpson said. “I finally feel everything is right again. Everything’s clicking again like it used to in the spring season.”

After undergoing shaky starts to their summers, Simpson and Mendoza have been flourishing of late. Both players tallied multi-hit games Saturday, extending their hit-streaks to five. On July 9, Mendoza and Simpson sported .161 and .127 batting averages, respectively. After Saturday’s win, Mendoza was hitting .242 and Simpson’s average sat at .200.

“The pitching up here sometimes can intimidate you, and until you relax into it, it can eat you up,” Holliday said. “And it was eating [Mendoza] up. Then, all of a sudden, he starts using the whole field and he's got power. Hitting becomes fun again, and [Simpson’s] the same way.”

As the A’s put on a hitting clinic, Alek Manoah (West Virginia) conjured up another stellar start. By the time Harwich got its first hit of the game in the third, Chatham had already worked through its lineup twice while the Mariners had seen just six at-bats.

“I’m just trying to come in and attack with the fastball and get some swings, get ahead of some counts,” Manoah said. “Then just play with them with the offspeed. Once I’m in a rhythm I can start throwing offspeed for strikes and start blowing their doors off.”

Manoah improved drastically on his last start — a 10-1 loss at Y-D in which he allowed six runs and struck out two. The 6-foot-7 right-hander tossed six innings, his longest outing of the season, and struck out a season-high 11 batters.

Despite allowing just three hits in his outing, Manoah surrendered two runs. In the bottom of the third with runners on second and third, Tanner Morris (Virginia) grounded out, allowing Brad Debo (NC State) to score. Nate Eikhoff (Virginia) led off the sixth inning with a solo-shot to reduce the deficit to six, but Manoah struck out three-straight Mariners to conclude his day.

“The fastball command is the foundation of what I do,” Manoah said. “If that’s not going, things are going to fall off. Today I just had everything going.”

John McMillon (Texas Tech) replaced Manoah on the bump in the seventh and caused Anglers fans to hold their breath. The right-hander struggled with fastball command early in the frame, allowing a double and three walks as Harwich registered their third run of the night.

But McMillon turned it around in emphatic fashion. The Texas Tech product used his 94 mile per hour fastball and a devastating slider to strike out the next three Mariners, escaping the inning. McMillon then cruised through the eighth and ninth frames, facing just seven batters over the span.

Chatham’s offense exploded for 13 hits but only six players recorded a base knock. Five players — Greg Jones (UNC Wilmington), Simpson, Mendoza, Sabol and Arenas — accrued multi-hit games.