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Kolby Kubichek has had two no-hit bids this season. The first established him as one of the top pitchers in the Cape League — four innings without a base hit in his second appearance of the season. Manager Tom Holliday pulled him to start the fifth. It was early in the season, and Holliday was set on a three-pitcher per game system then.
On Sunday, he was in the same situation: no hits through four. This time, he remained on the mound in a 0-0 ballgame.
“I don’t try to pay attention to it,” Kubichek said of his hitless streak.
Three batters into his fifth frame, Brewster had not only broken the hitless streak, they posted two runs — more earned runs that Kubichek allowed through his first 19 innings this season.
A pitching duel at Veterans Field dominated the early innings of Sunday’s game. But it didn’t end in Chatham’s favor. A pair of home runs marred the Chatham pitching staff that was excellent throughout. And the Anglers’ (14-8-1) offense left nine runners on base, including the bases loaded twice, in a 3-0 shutout to the Whitecaps (11-10-1).
“We were one, two hits key hits away from winning the ball game,” Kubichek said. “Could’ve been 4-3, we lost 3-0.”
Kubichek’s first no-hit opportunity came on June 16. He’d allowed a run, but it wasn’t earned. Through four, he’d allowed just one walk and struck out two. Holliday called on Kubichek’s roommate, Mason Hazelwood (Kentucky), to keep the streak going. But through 5.1 innings, Yarmouth-Dennis broke through.
“I had better stuff this outing,” Kubichek said. “Earlier season, I was two, maybe three pitches. But I was able to locate all four today.”
Kubichek rattled off three straight strikes to open the game, catching the Whitecaps leadoff man Ryan Bliss looking. When he went down 3-0, the righty did it again, also looking.
The top of the second mirrored the first, but both of his strikeouts came on swings to the heart of the lineup. Tyler Gentry looked to make contact but fanned on a 75 mph curveball. A fourth consecutive strikeout hit the dirt.
Kubichek used his slider effectively, which pitching coach Dennis Cook taught him. And with a fastball nearing 90 mph and a curveball at the bottom of the zone, Kubichek was unhittable for four innings.
He hadn’t allowed a hit through four, again, and eight strikeouts in that span kept Brewster hitters disoriented. So Holliday kept him out there.
“He’s turning into an absolute workhorse stud,” Holliday said.
A ground ball to third got him through 4.1, but a single up the middle ended the zeroes on the bottom half of the scoreboard. Trying to save the tie, Kubichek started 1-1 to seven-hole hitter Tyler Harden. But the third pitch slider, the pitch Kubichek highlighted as his best of the night, wouldn’t stay in the catcher’s mitt or on the ground — it was long gone.
“I knew it was going to be bad,” Kubichek said. “I was hoping he’d mishit it.”
A two-hitter sequence topped off by a deep home run undid Kubichek’s masterful start. And put the Anglers down to start, again.
Chatham has only scored first seven times in 23 games. It hasn’t correlated to losses — the A’s came into Sunday winning seven of their last eight games — but the A’s improved July offense struggled to come back like it’s done before.
Ben Ramirez (USC) and Jamal O’Guinn (USC) opened the first with singles. And with a two-out, five-pitch walk from Jorge Arenas (Stetson), the bases were loaded. But Brady Smith (Florida) struck out swinging. The same happened two innings later. The second and third hitters from USC both hit to get on, soon creating another bases loaded chance. Yet, the A’s left with nothing on the scoreboard.
“We had them in trouble three times,” Holliday said. “And three times we had nothing.”
The hits were coming — through the seventh inning, the A’s had double the hits than the Whitecaps — but the runners on base weren’t crossing home. For Brewster, it didn’t need those sequences to score. Austin Vernon (North Carolina Central) came in relief to start the sixth and struck out back-to-back batters. But the third batter caught his high fastball and lugged the pitch over the right field wall.
An Anthony Vilar (Miami) double came in the sixth, but with two outs, he was stranded at second. Ramirez blasted his third hit, the tail-end of his best offensive performance of the season, but he went to the dugout after a fielder’s choice.
“It all kind of came together today for me,” Ramirez said. “But we weren’t getting runs.”
Vernon eventually stabilized after his one mishap. With two runners in scoring position, the right-hander struck out two batters in a row and ended his outing with a 1-2-3 frame. The A’s offense just couldn’t muster a hit in the final two innings, even with a pair of pinch hits to start the eighth and a walk to lead off the ninth.
“The two homers, we’ve done that. We’ve hit them and sit there and breath easy,” Holliday said. “But we couldn’t get that third hit in a row.”