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WAREHAM — The first pitch from the Wareham Gatemen’s Ryan Garcia (UCLA) to the Chatham Anglers’ John Rave (Illinois State) was a called strike. Despite being knee-high and right over the plate, the ball popped out of the mitt of catcher Drew Millas (Mississippi State) and skirted away and to the right of the catcher.
It was a perfect chance for Drew Mendoza (Florida State) — who was taking a lead off first base — to swipe second without a throw. However, Mendoza slipped on the wet stone-dust infield of Clem Spillane Field and did not try to steal. Two pitches later, Rave roped a double into the left-field corner. If Mendoza was on second, he would have trotted home comfortably as the game’s first run. But he was not, and he found himself on third base when the relay throw was completed.
With one out, Chatham still had at least two more opportunities to score Mendoza. But the missed opportunity to score during Rave’s hit exemplifies the chances the Anglers squandered early in their 5-3 loss in Game 1 of the CCBL Championship Series to Wareham.
In only one frame — the first inning — did Chatham send the minimum three batters to the plate. Yet, only one Chatham baserunner — Jorge Arenas (Stetson) — who did not hit a home run scored Saturday. Spencer Torkelson (Arizona State) hit a solo-shot in the seventh and Tristin English (Georgia Tech) hit a pinch-hit two-run home run in the ninth.
After Rave’s double in the second, Ben Ramirez (Southern California) and Greg Jones (UNC Wilmington) both struck out to end the inning.
The next inning, Kyle McCann (Georgia Tech) drew a walk to start off the inning and then advanced to second on a Blake Sabol (Southern California) groundout. He would not advance any further after Torkelson flew out and Michael Busch grounded out.
The fourth inning provided the Anglers with their best chance. Colin Simpson (Oklahoma State) singled and Mendoza walked to start the inning. After Wareham notched two outs, Jones was hit by a pitch to load the bases for McCann. The starting first baseman worked a 3-1 count, but grounded out to Ryan Kreidler (UCLA) at shortstop.
Garcia threw one more inning for the Gatemen and Chatham again had an opening to score a run. Torkelson crushed a one-out double but was left stranded 180 feet away from home after Busch struck out and Simpson grounded out.
“I don't think we were tight, I think [Garcia] made some good pitches,” Anglers manager Tom Holliday said. “I'm a little bit surprised that we didn't score on him. I thought we would score.”
Easton Lucas (Pepperdine) replaced in the sixth and continued the trend of allowing runners on base. Mendoza earned his third free pass of the contest to begin the inning and advanced to second on a groundout before being stranded there. Rave singled in the eighth and Sabol reached on an error in the ninth but neither runner made it past first base.
Utilizing a lineup that featured almost exclusively left-handed hitters — Torkelson was the only right-handed batter — Holliday said he expected the team to be able to do a much better job against Garcia.
“I thought we were going to handle the right-hander a little better than we did,” Holliday said.