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Chatham starter Daniel Federman threw a 2-2 pitch that the entire Chatham dugout thought had caught the outside corner. The A’s hollered, including manager Tom Holliday and pitching coach Dennis Cook. For most of the first four innings, both dugouts chirped about inconsistent balls and strikes calls.
Later in the at-bat, Adam Oviedo ripped a single up the middle. Instead of two outs and none on, Oviedo’s single sparked the Kettleers first rally — four consecutive singles to drive in the first run of the game.
The Anglers have played from behind against Cotuit plenty this season. In all three games, Cotuit jumped on Chatham early with the first run, and the A’s came back to win all three times. But on Saturday night, the hole was too deep for the jolted Chatham dugout to rally.
The Anglers pulled two runs back in the fourth and had both the manager and pitching coach ejected for arguing an inconsistent strike zone. But the A’s came but came up well short in a 10-3 loss to the Kettleers. In the midst of the Anglers best winning stretch of the season, Cotuit erupted for 15 hits as Chatham lost just its second game in the last 10.
“Every strike matters, it’s a big statistic,” catcher Charlie Welch (St. John’s River State College) said. “And when there are obvious strike calls not going your way it starts to add up. Pitcher’s counts turn into hitter’s counts, base hits happen, more runs come across the plate.”
Federman had thrown two hitless innings and seemed to be in a groove, but everything changed after the controversial one-out single. Four consecutive singles brought in the opening run, and even after Federman managed a strikeout with the bases loaded and one out, he couldn’t escape the jam.
On the first pitch to Mason McWhorter, the Cotuit first baseman lined a fastball over the head of second baseman Tyler Doanes (West Virginia) to score two more runs. The Miami right-hander had been dominant in his last few starts, but the Kettleers offense kept finding holes in front of the Chatham outfielders.
“I thought Federman was really good,” Holliday said. “His first three innings were electric... and then the game changed on him. He came back and hid his fastball and they string a couple hits on him. Then it turned into a zoo for about two innings.”
After Federman delivered a 2-1 pitch in the third inning that appeared to be a strike — to everyone except home plate umpire David Viveiros — Holliday asked Welch where the previous pitch was. Welch just shrugged his shoulders, and Holliday continued his from the dugout.
That’s when Viveiros ejected Holliday. For the first time in his two years with Chatham, an umpire tossed Holliday from the game.
“We sit over there ask him about one pitch, he gets all huffy puffy about it. The game kind of shifted at that moment, down three that’s not a big deal to us, and the bottom line is, after the fourth, I couldn’t see anything.”
In the fourth, the Cotuit offensive onslaught continued. Federman recorded the first out before the Kettleers again strung together singles to break the game open. Of the Kettleers 15 hits, 14 were singles.
Cody Pasic took a free pass before Oviedo again knocked a single to center to begin the rally. Oraj Anu singled and Nick Gonzales was thrown out attempting to stretch a single into a double when both he and Anu were both standing on second base after Anu tripped rounding the base.
It gave the A’s a free out, but Federman couldn’t take advantage. Matt Mervis roped a two-run single to extend the deficit to six runs, the largest deficit Chatham has faced against the Kettleers this season.
When pitching coach Dennis Cook came out for a mound visit to replace Federman with left-hander Hugh Fisher (Vanderbilt), he too was ejected after a brief discussion with the home plate umpire.
Cook’s ejection riled up the Anglers dugout and left most of the home side of the Veterans Field crowd booing. Every single Chatham player was leaning on the edge of the dugout as Cook joined Holliday in the shed in the left field corner to watch the remainder of the game.
“Anytime a coach gets thrown out, you’re so pumped,” Hueston Morrill (Oklahoma State) said. “They are fighting for us, so for us, we need to fight for them now. You see a little surge, for that half inning, we were ready to go to war.”
Both Holliday and Cook watched as the Anglers turned the ejections into more energy. Now trailing 6-0, the entire dugout roared as Welch smoked a two-run double down the left field line. The Anglers first hit gave them life but it wasn’t enough. When Hueston Morrill (Oklahoma State) led off the seventh with a double and came around to score, Chatham added another tally, but it wasn’t enough either.
But all season, the Anglers have done more than enough. Hours before the game, the Anglers clinched a playoff spot. Holliday didn’t want his players to know it pregame, but an Orleans win against Brewster had guaranteed the A’s a spot in the postseason.
The A’s won’t want to remember much from Saturday night except they’ll be playing six days from now when the playoffs begin.