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Eventually, the Chatham pitching had to give in. Its near-perfect outings throughout the week were wasted by an offense that couldn’t hit. They weren’t celebrated for running through opposing lineups because the A’s lost.
The Anglers found some offensive life on Thursday, ending a 19 inning scoreless streak. In response, the A’s pitching finally fell flat.
“The wheels have fallen off,” manager Tom Holliday said. “We gotta put the wheels back on.”
Following a hot streak to start July, a .289 team average and a rise to the best record in the Cape League, the questions surrounding the A’s recent fall — four loses in its last five games — highlighted its lack of offense. Lost in the equation was its steady pitching success.
Chatham (15-11-1) needed one more of those outings, but Falmouth (13-10-1) exploited the most consistent facet of the Anglers on Thursday. 11 runs, the most the A’s have allowed this season, jumped on the scoreboard before four innings were finished. Chatham had more hits than its last two games combined, but the Commodores’ early damage was insurmountable in a 15-6 loss at Veterans Field.
“This isn’t any one guy, this is a team thing,” Holliday said. “We didn’t pitch good, we didn’t play defense well and we didn’t hit good even though it was better.”
Two of its offensive shutouts in the past four games didn’t start as blowouts, they began as pitching duels — Kolby Kubichek (Texas) and Zarion Sharpe (UNC Wilmington) threw a no-hitter and faced the minimum to start, respectively. Both were undone by two-run fourth inning home runs.
“You might as well do it now so you don’t do it later,” Holliday said.
Chatham’s seven victories in eight games to start July featured its offense running the score up early, sometimes as high as seven runs. Slowly, its leads would deteriorate, but each time, they’d pull off the win. When Chatham fell behind, they’d try taking more pitches and hitting less for power and more for contact.
An infield single started Thursday’s game and a one-out home run to right gave Falmouth a first-run lead. Kaden Polcovich (Oklahoma State), the leadoff hitter for Chatham, got the elusive hard contact the Anglers yearned, but a diving catch sent him to the dugout.
The offensive woes this week were well documented, with manager Tom Holliday switching up the A’s pregame batting practice routine on Wednesday looking for a change. With an early 3-0 deficit, Brady Smith (Florida) ended the scoreless streak with a solo shot to left. They were within two, and if the A’s pitching could hold on like it has, Thursday’s game would be competitive, down to the wire.
But the Anglers pitching couldn’t keep Falmouth off the scoreboard.
“Some of these guys have always overpowered people,” Holliday said. “And when it stops you need to do the little things.”
Ty Madden’s (Texas) third inning on the mound commenced with a leadoff double and walk. The next at-bat brought both home. When the right-hander was replaced and Chatham pushed across another run in the third, Jack Owen (Auburn) came in the fourth inning with the A’s down three runs. After three extended outs, the deficit tripled.
Three singles loaded the bases, and a fourth base hit ballooned the lead to 7-2. When a walk filled the diamond again, Owen went up 1-2 against Baron Radcliff, throwing low in the zone to try for a groundout, maybe a double play. But his sixth pitch was lifted up and out of the ballpark.
By the time Owen returned to the dugout after one inning, the game was out of reach: an 11-2 deficit after four innings.
“If we have to score more than six runs in a game, we don’t deserve to win in this league,” Holliday said.
Owen eventually buckled down, not allowing a run in his final two innings. Cade Cabbiness (Oklahoma State) had his first home run since his first at-bat as an Angler in the sixth. But neither would alter Thursday’s outcome.
Not wanting to waste any of his available pitchers for future games, Holliday turned to infielder Hueston Morrill (Oklahoma State). Morrill originally signed with the Cowboys as a two-way player, came to close the game on the mound — a sign of Chatham’s deficit. In the ninth, still down nine runs, they turned to another infielder in Jorge Arenas (Stetson) to close out another game.
After rallying his players in their post game huddle, Holliday pulled aside Daniel Federman (Miami) and Luke Bartnicki (Georgia Tech) for a couple minutes to talk about their appearances tomorrow. Maybe, they’ll end the A’s woes.
“We need somebody to stop the bleeding,” Holliday said.