« Back to 2018 News Archives
CHATHAM — Game 1 of the East Division Series between the Harwich Mariners and Chatham Anglers featured three home runs, four doubles and plenty of hard-hit outs. However, the initial sparks of multiple run-scoring rallies did not come from loud cracks of a wooden bat.
Instead it was the opposite — batters not swinging their lumber before tossing it towards their dugout after drawing a walk or being hit by a pitch.
“[The walks were] really important,” Anglers right fielder Spencer Torkelson said. “You got to make them throw strikes to win. When they do throw strikes you got to make them pay. That's what everyone did.”
Five of the game’s first seven runs were scored by baserunners who reached via a free pass. The two other runs were scored on solo-shots from Blake Sabol (Southern California) and Michael Busch (North Carolina).
In total, the Anglers drew six walks on the day and were hit-by-pitch four separate times with Torkelson drawing three walks, Busch being hit by a pitch twice and Greg Jones (UNC Wilmington) and Kyle McCann (Georgia Tech) each drawing one walk and being plunked once.
Chatham’s first free pass was a two-out walk from Jones, which was immediately followed by a two-run bomb from Kyle McCann to give the Anglers the lead. The next inning, Busch was hit on his red Nike cleats and Torkelson walked to start the frame. Both runners came around to score — Busch on a John Rave (Illinois State) double and Torkelson on a McCann hit-by-pitch.
A’s starter Austin Bergner (North Carolina) pitched six solid innings for the Anglers and gave up only two runs. Both of those runs were scored by players who had reached via a leadoff walk.
In the first, the right-hander walked Tanner Morris (Virginia) to start the game and Morris came around to score three batters later on a single from college teammate Alex Tappen (Virginia). Five innings later in the sixth, Ben Norman (Iowa) drew a four-pitch walk and later scored on a balk.
“It's about going to the next guy and saying, ‘I'm going to get him out,’ instead of shying away,” Bergner said about his mindset when walking the leadoff batter.
During the regular season, the A’s were the league-leader in walks with 193, 11 more than runner-up Yarmouth-Dennis. Nine players had double-digit walks — Jorge Arenas (Stetson), Busch, Jones, McCann, Drew Mendoza (Florida State), Ben Ramirez (Southern California), John Rave (Illinois State), Blake Sabol (Southern California) and Torkelson — and three of those players — Jones, Sabol and Torkelson — had at least 20 walks on the season.
Torkelson said the team’s ability to drive the baseball — Chatham led the league in home runs with 42 — is an important factor in the team’s ability to work a walk.
“I think when you got guys hitting bombs, doubles and extra base hits, guys get scared and know if they are going to throw a strike, it is going to hit hard,” Torkelson said. “So it gets in the back of the pitcher’s head and definitely rattles them a little bit.”