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Before Chatham took its regular overhand batting practice on Wednesday afternoon, manager Tom Holliday wanted to switch up the Anglers pregame routine.
Each batting group took one round of underhand soft toss from home plate before its typical setup.
Holliday hoped the Anglers bats would respond after two shutouts in their kast three games. They didn’t. One day after Chatham saw its 10-game winning streak to Harwich snapped by the Mariners, the Gatemen continued their recent success against Chatham, beating the Anglers for the 11th straight time, 7-0, at Veterans Field on Wednesday night.
The Anglers offense, which began July on a torrid start, has now been shut down three of the last four games. Through its first eight games of the month, Chatham’s batting average was up 34 points, its slugging up 56 points and its clutch hitting with runners on base improved from June’s numbers. The Anglers entered Sunday having scored 6.6 runs per game, winning seven of eight games.
“We broke the routine today to see if we couldn’t work a little bit more on the low ball,” Holliday said. “It didn’t matter. Their kid tonight was really good. That might be the best pitcher I’ve seen on the Cape so far.”
But the last two nights have marked significant regression, as the Anglers bats have been quieted by pitchers the A’s had previously seen in the 2019 season. Tuesday night, it was Connor McCullough’s two-seam fastball and slider that baffled the lineup in eight shutout innings. Wednesday, Ian Bedell, throwing his low-to-mid 90s fastball and curveball, struck out eight Anglers in six innings.
“He did a really good job of commanding the outer half of the plate, especially lefties,” Kaden Polcovich (Oklahoma State) said. “He went fastball out or changeup to start. We weren’t able to string anything together.”
Similar to the Anglers last meeting with Wareham, the A’s sloppy defense handed multiple runs in the opening inning to the opponent. When the teams played on June 28, two Wareham runs turned into four in the first frame after back-to-back Chatham errors.
Wednesday night, it was a dropped fly ball in left field. Starting pitcher Cole Ayers (State College of Florida) had retired the first two hitters on weak contact. But Colin Hall (Georgia Tech) overran the ball, and it glanced off his glove for a two-base error.
“We kind of gave the game away early,” Holliday said.
An infield single brought one run home, and a second run followed on an RBI single before Cade Cabbiness (Oklahoma State) threw out Wareham’s Dallas Beaver trying to stretch a single into a double.
Before the Anglers offense even took their first swing, they were in a hole, trailing 2-0. And once Ben Ramirez (USC) notched the Anglers first hit in the second, the deficit was four. Gatemen second baseman Darren Baker blooped a single over Alex Toral’s (Miami) head to drive in two more runs.
The A’s put seven runners on base on Wednesday, two of which were deleted by double plays on the next pitch. In two separate innings, the Anglers went down on three-straight strikeouts. They tried swinging earlier in counts, but it didn't make a difference.
“You never want to strike out with the umpire striking you out,” Toral said. “It is what it is. You have to go down swinging.”
When the Anglers mounted a rally in the eighth, on a Wareham error, Toral single and Keaton Rice (Bradley) walk, the A’s struck out twice to end the inning, one swinging, one looking. In the ninth, the A's had two runners on again with one out, but failed to bring them home.
Unlike the last meeting with the Gatemen, when the Anglers rallied in the ninth and brought the winning run to the plate down 7-4, Chatham never came close.
“The battle was trying to hit that guy and he won the battle,” Holliday said. “They are a ball club that has played poorly the last two nights. So what. Don’t deny it, don’t ignore it, deal with it. Tomorrow night is a new night.”