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HYANNIS — As the Chatham Anglers made the 20-plus mile drive Saturday to play the Hyannis Harbor Hawks, a rainstorm made its way over McKeon Park.
But the pregame showers morphed into a light drizzle before first pitch and the weather did not play much of a factor at McKeon Park on Saturday. Once the game started, however, Chatham poured on the runs.
A three-run first inning followed by six runs across the fifth and sixth innings propelled the Anglers (20-17-3) to a 9-2 victory over the Hyannis Harbor Hawks (21-15-3).
“That thing about scoring first just changes the whole complexion of the game,” Anglers manager Tom Holliday said. “We come out and score early and score often, its made pitching a lot easier.”
Blake Sabol (Southern California) opened the game with a single up the middle before Michael Busch (North Carolina) worked a walk to put runners on first and second. After executing a double-steal, both runners were in scoring position for Colin Simpson (Oklahoma State).
Simpson smoked a 1-0 pitch off the wall in deep left-center to score Sabol and Busch, securing Chatham’s first-inning lead. Four pitches later, Tristin English (Georgia Tech) knocked a seeing-eye single through the 5-6 gap to score Simpson, extending the Anglers’ lead to three.
“I just think we had good at-bats not swinging at pitches opposing pitchers want us to swing at,” Busch said. “We had some good plate discipline tonight.”
Chatham plated more runs in the fifth. Busch and Simpson drew free passes while English was plunked with a pitch to load the bases. Kyle McCann (Georgia Tech) drove a high-fly to right field that allowed Busch to score from home and Simpson to tag up to third. Simpson later scored on a wild pitch.
The final blow came via the blue bat of Simpson in the sixth. Sabol, John Rave (Illinois State) and Busch each reached base at the beginning of the inning to load the bases. After a Torkelson strikeout, Simpson walked up to the pate.
The left-handed slugger took a colossal hack on a first-pitch breaking ball, then watched two balls fly past him. With a 2-1 count, Joseph Quintal (Fordham) went back to the breaking ball but left it up in the zone. Simpson turned on the pitch and sent the ball deep into the woods beyond the right-field wall for a grand slam.
“I saw it up out of its hand which means it's going to hang,” Simpson said. “I would definetly say my eyes got wide but I try to keep everything short and simple.”
Chatham starter Jack Conlon (San Jacinto) has struggled with leads recently and ran into immediate trouble in the first. Saturday, he was able to withstand the pressure and get out of the inning unscathed.
After allowing leadoff walks to Davis Wendzel (Baylor) and Braden Comeaux (Rice), Conlon struck out CCBL All-Star Matthew Barefoot (Campbell) and Seth Gray (Wright State) and induced Pedro Pages (Florida Atlantic) to a hit ground ball to Ben Ramirez (Southern California) at third, escaping the inning unscathed.
As the game progressed, Conlon held Hyannis scoreless. The right-hander walked Eric Rivera (Florida Atlantic) in the second, but McCann erased that by throwing out Rivera trying to steal second base. He allowed two more base runners over two more innings and finished the day with four innings pitched, five strikeouts and no hits allowed.
“Conlon and McMillon both have good enough but we gave them breathing room so we could live longer with them on the mound,” Holliday said. “Those two guys are going to have to win for us in the playoffs if we are going to win this.”
John McMillon (Texas Tech) jogged out of the right-field bullpen in the bottom of the fifth as Conlon’s replacement. McMillon got Rivera to flyout, but his Big 12 counterpart Brady Lindsly (Oklahoma) reached second base on an error.
McMillon got another flyball and then forced Comeaux to hit a groundball in the hole. Shortstop Jorge Arenas (Stetson) field the ball on the run and made a cross-body throw to first. The ball hopped in front of English, who could not snag the ball. As the ball trickled towards the first-base dugout, Lindsly jogged home with ease.
The right-hander threw one more inning before Reeves Martin (New Orleans) made his second appearance of the summer. Martin allowed one run in his inning of work. Following Martin, Joseph Lowder (Appalachian State) made his first appearance for Chatham this summer and threw a scoreless eighth inning before handing the ball to Kyle Hurt (Southern California) in the ninth, who closed the night with a 1-2-3 frame.
“I feel really good about the fact that we only gave up two runs tonight to a really good team on the road,” Holliday said.