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Wareham sweeps Chatham behind 6-run 2nd inning

by Anthony Dabbundo
Sunday, June 16, 2019

Wareham sweeps Chatham behind 6-run 2nd inning

When Jamal O’Guinn (USC) ripped a fastball over the left-center fence in top of the first inning, it appeared Chatham’s bats had finally arrived in Wareham.

One game was in the loss column already, but the A’s could salvage a draw in Sunday’s doubleheader after being blanked in the opener, a 5-0 loss to the Gatemen. But at Spillane Field on Sunday, the Anglers posted their most disappointing performances of the young season. Wareham (4-1-1) beat Chatham (4-3) in game two, 8-5, to sweep the doubleheader and beat the A’s for the ninth-straight time dating back to 2017.

O’Guinn’s two-run shot, his first of the season, served as a bright glimmer on a gloomy afternoon where Chatham made outs on the basepaths, struggled with two-strikes and gave away runs defensively. While O’Guinn has burst onto the Cape red hot (.391/.533/.609), the team as a whole has been inconsistent with .241/.357/.335 splits through seven games.

“This isn’t the National League All-Star Team by any stretch of the word,” manager Tom Holliday said of his hitters. “We’re not a great hitting team right now period.”

Haydn King (UNLV) entered Sunday’s second game as the only pitcher to throw an inning or more without allowing a baserunner. He’d been perfect in three innings on Tuesday. Against Wareham, he was far from it. King escaped the first inning unscathed, but never got through the second.

“I felt like it just kind of sped up on me,” King said. “I rushed my front side and was missing a lot of balls up and out. It’s better that it happened now so I can fix it.”

In the second inning, Wareham brought all nine hitters to the plate, six of them recorded hits and scored. A 2-0 Chatham lead into a 6-2 deficit. The explosive second inning distanced the Gatemen from the Anglers, and Chatham’s bats weren’t effective enough, especially with runners on and two strikes, to overcome it.

“We have to do a better job of battling with two strikes,” utility man Kaden Polcovich (Northwest Florida State) said. “That’s the main issue. I think we were dead a little bit.”

King allowed a leadoff single to Mike Antico in his second frame of work. The next hitter, Chad Stevens, squared around to bunt but when his bunt dribbled in between third baseman Paxton Wallace (Wichita State) and King, they miscommunicated. Wallace appeared to try to play the ball and throw to first, but King said he didn’t hear him call it.

With his knees on the ground, King threw the ball into center field when he attempted to throw out the runner. Instead of a sacrifice bunt with a runner on second and one out, both runners took made it into scoring position. Wareham scored two runs on consecutive RBI groundouts.

“They bunted early and their bunts were good,” Holliday said. “King acted like that bunt had a rattlesnake wrapped around it."

King could've limited the damage to just two runs. But the next four hitters reached base and scored. 

They recovered one run in the top of the third through the smart baserunning of Polcovich. The Oklahoma State commit knocked a one-out single to left-center field and O’Guinn roped his second hit of game two through the hole at shortstop. The A’s had two on with just one out, trailing by four runs.

Ben Ramirez (USC) hit a deep fly ball to the warning track, and Polcovich tagged to reach third standing up. He then took home diving in head first on a wild pitch to bring the A’s within three runs. With a runner on second and two outs, newcomer Brady Smith (Florida) struck out in his first start for the Anglers. While, Chatham had trimmed the lead, Wareham wasn’t done adding to it. They scored two more runs off of Austin Vernon (NC Central) in the fourth and fifth innings.

With one final at-bat, trailing by five runs,  Jorge Arenas (Stetson) continued his hot start (.429/.500/.643 in 16 plate appearances) to the new season. He notched a double into the Wareham bullpen in the right field corner. Tyler Doanes (West Virginia) walked, and a Keaton Rice (Bradley) line drive single to center field scored two. Rice hit a crucial three-run triple on Saturday night, and found two more RBIs in his lone at-bat Sunday.

That single cut the deficit to three runs for Ramirez. But the tying run, Smith, never left the on-deck circle. Ramirez lined out to shortstop to clinch the two-game Wareham sweep.

After their two most complete performances of the season on Friday and Saturday, Chatham followed it with their two most-lopsided losses.

“It taught us some things today,” Holliday said. “Right when you start feeling comfortable, you’re four wins out of five, this game will humble you.”