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Ben Ramirez hadn’t hit a home run in over 18 months. So when the USC infielder lifted a high fastball to center field, he was convinced it was just a line drive. Just a bit short, he thought.
With impending lightning, rain and hail minutes away as Chatham held onto a 3-2 lead, center fielder Bradlee Beasley trailed backwards, getting the top of his glove on the ball. But instead of going in his mitt, it went up and over the fence. Two steps from first, Ramirez slowed when he realized what had happened.
“That’s like the first time I’ve jogged around the bases in a year,” Ramirez said. “I was pretty surprised.”
Following two early runs allowed in the second inning, Chatham (5-3-1) rattled off four unanswered runs in a 4-2 win over Yarmouth-Dennis (4-3-1). In a week where the A’s played just 13 innings because of rain and fog, Saturday’s game faced the same perils. In the six inning contest that concluded due to thunderstorms, Ramirez’s home run came just in time to cap off the victory.
A lightning delay at 3:30 p.m. halted batting practice and the A’s returned to the bus. Seconds before first pitch, Kaden Polcovich (Northwest Florida State) was drenched with rain as he stepped into the batter’s box. After taking a ball and a strike, the umpires called a second delay for 30 minutes.
“Mother nature is going to do what it’s going to do,” manager Tom Holliday said. “Quite frankly, I don’t like it either.”
When the downpour stopped, Mason Hazelwood (Kentucky) got out of a two runner, no out jam in the first frame. But in the second, Hazelwood, facing a grandstand of scouts behind home plate, conceded a single to start.
Following a steal, another hit scored a Y-D run A throw from the outfield reached catcher Brady Smith (Florida), but yells from the dugout convinced Smith to throw to second instead of trying to tag the charging runner. Neither were out. After an error from Alex Toral (Miami), the A’s fell behind 2-0.
Tyler Doanes (West Virginia) responded with Chatham’s first hit of the night, and Polcovich got on from an error in center field — a similar sequence to what gave Y-D success the inning prior. And one pitch was all Spencer Torkelson (Arizona State) needed to see to spear a ball in front of the left field foul pole.
Doanes took a wide turn nearing the Red Sox dugout and Polcovich reached behind to save his helmet from falling off his head. Both made it through.
The Red Sox success against the A’s pitching expired when Ty Madden (Texas) replaced Hazelwood. Madden’s outs — including three fly balls on six pitches to each side of the field in the fifth — quieted Y-D’s bats as Chatham’s bats heated up.
“Ty has a great, sinking, hard fast ball,” Holliday said. “He threw it down, and down, and pounded it in the strike zone.”
With runners on the corners following Doanes’ second hit of the day, Polcovich flied out to give the Anglers their first lead.
Up a run in the sixth, Ramirez came to the plate in the seventh slot. In his second-year with Chatham, he’s tried to hit more compact and upright, he said.
“I’ve been working Mickey (Tettleton), our hitting coach out here,” Ramirez said. “He’s been helping me a lot with my pop.”
When that pop awoke on a 2-2 count in the final inning, Ramirez admitted he was a little shocked. The shortstop, who’s hitting .233 in nine games this season, hadn’t homered since April 7, 2018. Since then, he’s completed a season in the Cape Cod Baseball League and at USC, while starting his second go-around at Chatham.
He couldn’t help laughing about the hit, and the help he got from Beasley postgame. But his knock put the shortened game out of reach, and wrapped up the A’s first victory in a week.
Said Holliday: “That’s Ben Ramirez taking bit and pieces everyday and trying to make it work.”