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Caden Grice stepped into the turtle three hours before Chatham's matchup against Falmouth. He conducted his usual game day routine, swiping his right foot before his left to clean the box before assistant coach Randy Whisler heaved a ball at him during the Anglers batting practice.
But Grice knew he wasn't hitting today. In the top of the first inning, the Anglers' only two-way player didn't run to first base or into the outfield. He swiped his right foot before his left to clean the bump, marking his 'area' as if he was in the batter's box.
The first two batters Grice faced sent the ball back at him, leading to an easy throw to Will Butcher at first before Grice ran over to the bag himself. He then struck out Jace Bohrofen for his only clean inning of the night.
'He thinks he's Superman, but everyone runs low on energy, so I thought after an off day would be the best time,' manager Tom Holliday said about starting Grice on the mound. 'He did good ' he got everybody out.'
Grice never faced more than four batters in an inning in his first start on the mound for Chatham and first for any team since May 22, 2021, with Clemson. 'I'm locked in wherever I'm playing,' Grice said.
Grice was succeeded by P.J. Labriola and Ben Peterson, who only gave up a combined four hits Friday. But the Commodores plated a run in the eighth inning to tie the game at 1-1, a score that held and moved the Anglers to two points back of fourth-place in the East Division after Orleans' victory.
'We pitched well all night, we should win that game,' Holliday said. 'If this was a month ago, you don't worry about that ' but we let that get away. That's probably the hardest loss of the season.'
After Grice retired the side in four batters in the second inning, Chuck Ingram walked up to the right-handed batter's box. He wasted no time during his at-bat, swinging at the first pitch. Ingram made contact, lofting the ball behind into shallow right field.
Second baseman Peyton Stovall ran backwards, losing his hat as he tried to track the ball. Simultaneously, right fielder Tafton Hensley sprinted in to try to catch up. But neither player got to it in time, allowing Ingram to reach first base.
Lyle Miller-Green sliced a grounder into left field, which bounced past shortstop Alex Mooney. Ingram eventually advanced to third, scoring after Cooper Ingle waved him to sprint home following a passed ball.
Labriola replaced Grice on the mound in the fifth inning, making his first appearance for the Anglers this season. Labriola was with Chatham at the beginning of the season, but he spent most of the summer with the Bradenton Juice in the Florida Gulf Coast League before Holliday told him to 'get up here' after his season ended.
Hensley swung at the first pitch Labriola sent at him, tapping it back at the mound for an easy out. But the Commodores loaded the bases after Labriola walked Anthony Mackenzie, allowed a single to Mooney and hit Colby Halter on his elbow.
Mackenzie ran home after Bohrofen rolled the ball between first and second. The grounder took an awkward bounce in front of Roc Riggio, but he gloved it and threw to first for the final out, voiding Mackenzie's run.
'That really gave us a lift tonight,' Holliday said about Labriola's performance.
Labriola got out of the sixth inning in four batters before Peterson came into the game. Peterson struck out the first two batters he faced before Johnny Castagnozzi fielded a slow ground ball and threw to Butcher in time.
Another short grounder went at Castagnozzi in the eighth, but his throw to first went high, hitting the netting above the fence near Falmouth's dugout. Pinckney walked to second base as the ball went out of play, sprinting home for the Commodores' only run after Stovall roped the ball to the left of Riggio.
'There's no excuse when you make an error like that to give up the extra base,' Holliday said.
Falmouth threatened the 1-1 tie in the top of the ninth as Mackenzie drilled the ball up the middle. Riggio got in front of the ball, but it bounced out of his glove. Mackenzie then ran to second after Mooney hammered the ball into left field.
Peterson said he had been waiting to use his splitter in the 'right spot' despite struggling with the pitch throughout the night. With an 0-2 count against Halter, he brought it out. Halter swung and missed on the low-and-away pitch, ending Falmouth's chances of taking the lead.
'That was three different looks tonight,' Grice said about Chatham's pitching. 'For an opposing team it's really difficult to adjust. We have a lot of depth that's going to be used a lot in the near future.'