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All Chatham manager Tom Holliday wanted was a first-inning run and an early lead. Both have been scarce for the Anglers.
“I’d love to score early,” Holliday said on Saturday night. “It seems like we never do that. Have we scored in the first inning once'”
The Anglers have won without scoring first five times. And they’ve conceded an opening run in 11 of their first 15 games. But on Monday night, Chatham finally found its first-inning offense. And then some. Kaden Polcovich (Northwest Florida State) lasered a 1-0 fastball over the fence in right-center field in the A’s first at-bat. Holliday’s wishes for offense came true in historic fashion.
“A home run to start a game is like a heart attack,” Holliday said. “He comes out and jolts it. It sounded different. Hitting is contagious. We had one of those offensive nights and he started it.”
Polcovich’s home run was the opener for Jamal O’Guinn’s (USC) back-to-back two-run doubles that put the game out of reach by the fourth inning. Chatham (9-6-1) won its second-consecutive game and third-straight against Yarmouth-Dennis (9-6-1), 15-1. For an offense that’s ridden through early-season peaks and valleys, nearly its entire lineup delivered the second-most runs in the Holliday era, and the third-most runs scored by the Anglers this century.
After 10 free passes, nine hits and two home runs in five innings, Chatham built an insurmountable 13-0 lead. It was more than enough support for an equally dominant pitching staff. As Y-D manager Scott Pickler ran out of options and turned to position players to pitch the final two frames, Holliday’s staff overwhelmed the Red Sox for the third time this season. The league’s top offense has scored just six runs against the Anglers in 2019.
“It’s a chain reaction,” O’Guinn said. “Tonight shows how contagious it is. If you know the pitcher doesn’t have his best stuff, it’s a lot easier to sit and take a strike. Not too many bad swings.”
“And 15 runs, woah.”
Around 5 p.m., Kolby Kubichek (Texas) arrived at Veterans Field. As he sat in the bullpen quietly biding his time before his start, pitching coach Dennis Cook walked up to him.
“I’m excited to see what you’ve got tonight for us,” Cook told Kubichek.
The Texas right-handed pitcher smiled. After Kubichek had retired the first 14 hitters, the longest outing of any Chatham pitcher in 2019, Cook motioned to the bullpen for Jeremy Wu-Yelland (Hawaii) to warm-up. But Wu-Yelland wasn’t necessary in the fifth. Pitching freely, Kubichek completed another scoreless inning and struck out six of his final seven hitters.
Kubichek kept the ball down, forced grounders and lowered his ERA to 0.59 through 15 total innings this season. Kubichek, Wu-Yelland, Daniel Federman (Miami) and Zach Cable (Kentucky) combined for one of the most dominant performances of the 2019 campaign.
“He threw fastballs in fastball counts that were sinking half a foot,” Holliday said. “And they couldn’t hit them. When you can do that, you had a pretty good night.”
While the Anglers’ arms dominated, Yarmouth-Dennis’ pitching issues began early. Starter Carlos Lomoli exited due to injury after recording just one out. The Red Sox relievers couldn’t throw enough strikes. The free passes set up O’Guinn for his two-run double in the second to right-center field that extended the A’s lead to 4-0.
The walks in the fourth preceded O’Guinn’s rope down the right-field line that propelled the Anglers lead to seven, its largest of the season at the time. O’Guinn’s four RBIs pushed him into a tie with Cotuit’s Nick Gonzales for the most in the Cape League.
After another free pass — this time to Cade Cabbiness (Oklahoma State) — led to a Brady Smith (Florida) infield single to expand the bombardment to nine.
“We showed signs of being a good offensive team tonight,” Polcovich said. “That should help going into tomorrow.”
And if there was any doubt about Ben Ramirez’s (USC) first home run — a line drive at short-fenced Y-D that was pushed over the wall by the outfielder’s glove — the Chatham third baseman left no doubt on his second homer in the fifth. Ramirez smoked the ball up onto the hill near Depot Road to push through three more runs and expand the A’s lead to 13.
By the seventh, Pickler was out of options. Pickler who opted to send infielder Drew Swift in to pitch in lieu of burning more bullpen arms.
Swift struck out the side, but not before allowing a two-run, opposite-field home run to Paxton Wallace (Wichita State). In the eighth, Pickler turned to two more position players, Joseph Hall and Riley Tirotta to end the barrage.
Holliday wanted an early lead. But when Polcovich gave Chatham its first run, the Anglers never could have envisioned the onslaught that was coming.
“I think we have a really good offense, and we obviously haven’t scored a lot of runs this season,” O’Guinn said. “I think tonight was a good starting point.”