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Carson Whisenhunt hadn't had the summer many anticipated. Through three starts, one of the top prospects in the MLB Draft had produced a 10.63 ERA. With the draft approaching, it was known Whisenhunt's outing Sunday would be his last with Chatham. The result was the southpaw's best performance of the season. Whisenhunt held Orleans to one run on three hits over five innings of work.
As a whole, Anglers pitchers surrendered six hits to Orleans, but Chatham was shut out for the fourth time this season, dooming the Anglers in their 1-0 loss to the Firebirds at Eldredge Park.
Whisenhunt dealt with traffic in each of his first four innings but was only burnt once. With one out in the bottom of the second, Logan Beard drove a curveball back up the middle to set the Firebirds' only run-scoring inning in motion.
One of the few blemishes on Whisenhunt's outing was his lack of control over the basepaths, something Beard exposed early, stealing second the at-bat after he reached base.
'(Whisenhunt) needs to learn how to hold runners, for sure,' pitching coach Dennis Cook said. 'He's gotten better as the summer's gone, but of course it's four starts.'
Beard's swipe of second paid dividends, as Garret Guillemette's ground ball to second baseman Roc Riggio advanced Beard to third instead of starting a double play. With two outs, Cam Jones sent a sharp ground ball up the middle. It deflected off Whisenhunt's glove and rolled to the lip of the grass halfway between first and second base, bringing Beard home on an infield single.
Even without his best stuff, Whisenhunt evaded trouble outside of the second inning. Whisenhunt entered Sunday's contest with 19 strikeouts in 11 innings, but only two of the 15 outs he collected against the Firebirds came on punch outs.'I think we had a good game plan on what we wanted to do and how we wanted to attack the hitters,' Hayden Travinski said. 'It was my first time getting to catch him so far here in the Cape, and he had good control of three pitches today.'
In a contest that was tight throughout, Chatham squandered its best scoring chance. Matt Hogan led off the top of the sixth with an infield single before advancing to third base on two wild pitches.
After Travinski walked, Chatham manager Tom Holliday made a rare dip into his bag of tricks. Guy Garibay Jr. squared to bunt as Hogan ran down the third base line, but he sent the pitch foul. The squeeze play stayed on though. On a 1-1 pitch, Garibay Jr. missed the bunt and instantly put his hands behind his head. Guillemette capitalized on the mistake and picked off Hogan, who was caught between third and home.
The Firebirds nearly broke through late in the game. After Alex McFarlane tossed two scoreless innings, he failed to record an out in the bottom of the eighth. McFarlane hit Luke Keaschall to lead off the inning before walking Jacob Stinson. After Jack Bulger singled to load the bases, Cook brought in Tommy Molsky.
Molsky dissected Orleans hitters one at a time. In four pitches, the right-hander set Kevin Sim down on strikes. Molsky began Isaac Humphrey with similar aggressiveness, getting ahead 0-2. On the third pitch of the at-bat, Humphrey appeared to wave and miss at a ball in the dirt, but home plate umpire Mike Rabideau called a foul ball.
Holliday immediately came onto the field to argue the call, but the umpires upheld the decision after coming together to discuss. No matter, Molsky made Humphrey his second strikeout victim two pitches later.
Molsky battled Beard for six pitches before freezing him for strike three. The inning officially ended after Nelson Rivera scrambled to collect the dropped third strike and dove headfirst onto the plate to beat Keaschall home.
Chatham's attempt to carry any momentum into the top of the ninth was fruitless. AJ Blubaugh entered to close out the game for Orleans and retired the first two batters he faced. After more than eight innings of feeble offense, Holliday turned to his bench, looking for one swing to tie the game.
Holliday called upon the switch-hitting Noah Ledford, who climbed into the left-handed batter's box. Ledford quickly fell behind 1-2. On the next pitch, Blubaugh reared back and blew a fastball by Ledford, prompting a cheer from the Orleans crowd at the expense of an Anglers loss for the second time in five days.