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CHATHAM — If a group of fans made the walk into Veterans Field around 9 p.m. Sunday night, they would have had no idea Alek Manoah (West Virginia) just struck out his ninth batter in the top of the sixth during Game 2 of the 2018 Championship Series.
Out in center field, five Wareham Gatemen relief pitchers were throwing a football to a group of kids on the hill. Two groups of Chatham Anglers players were playing the team’s favorite free-time activity — hacky sack. The four umpires and a group of men in Cape League gear were having a meeting next to the backstop.
The infamous Chatham fog had rolled in, settled and made its mark. At 8:58 p.m., a fog delay was called. Thirty minutes later, the game was postponed until Monday at 1 p.m., much to the chagrin of the players of Chatham.
"You want to make jokes about it but you can't beat Mother Nature,” Anglers manager Tom Holliday said. “This is an act of Mother Nature. What are you supposed to do'”
The game was called with Tristin English (Georgia Tech) about to bat in the bottom of the sixth inning with Gatemen winning 4-1.
For the first time all summer, Chatham scored the first run in a contest against Wareham. Leadoff hitter Blake Sabol (Southern California) drew a five-pitch walk and then Spencer Torkelson (Arizona State) roped a single through the right side. Colin Simpson (Oklahoma State) worked a 3-2 count against Derek West (Pittsburgh). With one out, Holliday sent the two runners in motion and it paid dividends. Simpson smoked the pitch, whistling by Torkelson and into right field as Sabol scored without having to slide.
Wareham took the lead in the third inning, and it was eerily similar to how it did so in Game 1. Lael Lockhart Jr. (Houston) walked and Oliver Dunn (Utah) singled to start the inning. Ryan Kreidler (UCLA) hit a tailor-made double play ball, but shortstop Greg Jones fumbled the ball and all runners were safe.
After Manoah struck out two straight batters, Austin Shenton (Florida International) walked to the plate. In the fifth inning of Game 1, Shenton hit a bases-clearing double with two outs in the to give Wareham a three-run lead. He did not clear the bases Sunday, but he did rip a single just above the glove of first baseman Sabol , scoring two runs and giving the Gatemen the lead.
“Alek tonight had great stuff,” Holliday said. “Now we make an error and it opens the floodgates. He almost pitches out it. They hit some balls hard and they made him work. His stuff tonight was electric. I tip my hat to Alek.”
To start the bottom of the inning, Wareham shortstop Ryan Kreidler (UCLA) overran a pop fly to start the bottom of the third, allowing Michael Busch (North Carolina) to cruise into second base. After two consecutive outs, Tristin English (Georgia Tech) — two days removed from pitching 8.2 stellar innings in the EDCS and less than 24 hours removed from blasting a home run against the Gatemen — stepped up to the plate.
The two-way star took the first pitch from Derek West (Pittsburgh) and powered it the other way. The ball began tailing towards the right-field corner and looked to be landing in a sea of fans beyond the fence.
Isaac Collins (Creighton) had other ideas. The Wareham right fielder leaped into the blue outfield wall and made an outstanding home-run robbery. The Gatemen bullpen — located just a few feet away from where Collins made the catch — exploded in celebration when the ball was snagged.
“They play defense really good,” Holliday said. “They are a really good ball club.”
Wareham added one run in the fourth and one in the sixth. Drew Millas (Mississippi St.) led off the fourth with a triple and then scored on a Lockhart Jr. single. Millas and Lockhart Jr. sparked another run-scoring inning in the sixth. Millas he roped a one-out double and came around on another RBI single from Lockhart Jr.
If Chatham wins Game 2 tomorrow, Game 3 will be played later in the day at Clem Spillane Field in Wareham.
“We are not going to play to lose tomorrow to get it over with,” Holliday said. “We are going to play to win.”