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Jake DeLeo stepped into the right-handed batter's box for the second time in the fifth inning against Bourne on Friday. With Marcus Brown on first base, DeLeo watched the first pitch land high before fixing his helmet and going back into his batting stance. DeLeo launched the ball toward the scoreboard in left-center, ricocheting the ball off the middle of it to tie the game.
DeLeo stayed in the lineup on Saturday, entering the batter's box for the second time to open the third inning. With the Anglers trailing 1-0 to Harwich, DeLeo finally made contact on the fifth pitch he saw, rocketing the ball past the center field fence at Whitehouse Field.
'Jake right now is the only thing we have, we're a struggling group of hitters,' manager Tom Holliday said. 'Without him we wouldn't have scored in the last few days.'
DeLeo's homer tied the game at 1-1, a score that maintained for the rest of the night. Both team's bullpens kept the bats at bay as Chatham and Harwich combined for six hits (three each). The Anglers struck out a season-high 19 times.
Cy Nielson and Liam Sullivan traded strong outings in the first two frames, striking out a combined five batters. David Smith notched the first hit of the game in the bottom of the second, making weak contact on a ball that dribbled into no man's land. Nielson threw to first, but the throw was too late.
Chatham's bats finally started to make more contact on the ball in the top of the third, but Dominic Tamez and Chuck Ingram both popped out. Roc Riggio found the Anglers their first hit at the end of the batting order, dropping the ball into shallow left field on the fifth pitch he saw.
Marcus Brown entered the batter's box next, and Sullivan checked on Riggio twice. Riggio took off to second, but Brown swung and missed for the final strike.
Nielson worked two batters to 3-0 counts in the second inning, walking Chris Newell to open the third. Newell advanced to second after Marcus Brown fielded a grounder and decided against pursuing the double play, putting out Nick Goodwin instead.
Chuck Ingram charged into shallow left field after Joe Vetrano launched the first pitch he saw. Ingram rocketed the ball toward home, but it swerved to the left of the plate. Tamez had to shuffle to retrieve the heave, letting Newell come in safe.
Harwich eventually loaded the bases, leading pitching coach Dennis Cook to take a trip to the mound. Holliday said Nielon's pitch count was specifically high in that inning, and Cook signaled to bring West Virginia lefty Ben Hampton from the bullpen. Hampton avoided the dilemma, forcing a fly out from Mac Guscette.
Hampton recorded two 1-2-3 innings, the start of a performance which Holliday called one of the best outings he had seen.
'That's about as good of a six innings as you could possibly pitch,' Holliday said about Hampton. 'He makes an 85 mph fastball look fast.'
Caden Grice walked after Lyle Miller-Green and Hayden Travinski struck out to open the seventh. But Tamez swung and missed on a low fourth pitch, ending the inning.
While the Anglers struggled on offense, DeLeo made an impact on the other end. In the eighth inning, Kenny Levari wasted no time after Joe Vetrano struck out, smacking the ball into right-center. DeLeo tracked the ball, launching his body into the turf to secure the diving catch.
DeLeo began the top of the order in the ensuing frame, working a walk before stealing second on a swing and a miss by newcomer Anthony Nunez. But no Angler bat was able to bring DeLeo home.