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Chatham's offense sparked on the Fourth of July, nearly tripling their four wins in June over the final month.
Manager Tom Holliday had deja vu at times in the Anglers' final stretch of the season, weary his team was falling back into June habits of lackluster offense and late meltdowns. But the Anglers didn't 'roll over and die,' staying in playoff contention through offensive bursts and consistent performances on the bump. Here are five games that helped Chatham fight back into the playoff bubble before the season's conclusion.
Five days after the least Cooper Ingle-like game of his life, Ingle returned to regular form on July 9. Against Orleans, he extended his first battle with the pitcher as long as he could, watching five straight pitches land in the catcher's glove. Four landed out of the strike zone, and Ingle waltzed to first base.
Ingle swung the bat from behind his left shoulder five innings later, notching the Anglers' first hit of the game with a knock to shallow left field. And in the bottom of the ninth, after Marcus Brown's bunt moved the winning run in Guy Garibay Jr. to third base, Ingle roped a walk-off line drive to center field.
'I just wanted to put a good swing on the ball, and luckily for us it fell,' Ingle said.
The Anglers were held hitless for five innings when Ingle broke the streak before stamping the 3-2 win over Orleans. The offense was backed by the longest performance by a Chatham pitcher at that point in the season. On the mound for 7.1 innings, Ben Hampton gave up one run and struck out seven batters.
'That might have been the best pitched game,' Holliday said. 'That kid can really pitch pitch.'
Hampton walked onto the mound before Chatham's batting practice on July 30 with a bucket and a rake. He conducted his usual job of doctoring the clay patch, knowing he would be the first to walk onto it once the matchup against Bourne began.
But Hampton couldn't predict how long he would have been out there, never leaving the mound against the Braves. It was the first nine-inning complete game in the Cape Cod Baseball League since 2017.
'I told (Holliday) if there was extra innings I wanted the 10th,' Hampton said.
Holliday said position players Anthony Nunez and Garibay approached him before the game to state their availability to pitch since the Anglers were low on bullpen arms. But the Anglers didn't need to dip into their reserves with Hampton providing the glue in a 1-1 tie against the Braves.
'That was the best outing I've seen in my four years in Cape Cod,' Holliday said.
Bourne pitcher Anthony Arguelles matched Hampton's dominance during his time on the mound, holding Chatham hitless through six innings. The Anglers' only hit of the night came from Roc Riggio, who drilled the ball over the right field fence to lead off the bottom of the seventh.
John Schifnner reminded the Anglers their season doesn't start until facing Orleans on the Fourth of July. The 2022 restart took place at Veterans Field, and Noah Ledford came up to the plate in the second inning.
Ledford struck out a day earlier when Holliday motioned him to pick up a bat and 'go yard' with two outs in the ninth inning. He got his result almost 24 hours later, rocketing the ball over the center field fence in his second at-bat.
'A buddy of mine said home runs are an accident,' Ledford said. 'It felt really good, I've been hunting for that one all year. Hopefully that was the turnaround I needed, and especially for the team too.'
The annual matchup held hours after the Anglers players paraded through town marked a much-needed restart for Chatham. The team which struggled to find offense throughout June clinched its first lead since June 26 in a 7-1 win over Orleans. Chatham had four runs in its past six games heading into the contest but matched that total before the end of the seventh.
Riggio jumped out of his post on the right edge of the dugout, joining the public gaze into right field after Nunez belted the ball. Brown had retreated back to third base, but his shuffle quickly turned into a high-step in the opposite direction.
'Everybody had a sigh of relief when Nunez hit that home run,' Holliday said. 'That home run was a monster for us.'
The Anglers allowed four runs in the eighth inning a day earlier in a 5-2 loss to Orleans, the 11th lead they'd forfeited during the season. But Chatham's Achilles' heel didn't reappear with Nunez's grand slam extending the 3-2 gap in the sixth inning. The 10-2 win on July 26 was the Anglers' first win over the Kettleers during the season.
Roman Kimball struck out seven batters in five innings, ending his fifth inning of work with three straight strikeouts. Carlos Rey followed suit, giving up just one hit in four innings on the mound.
'The grand slam and the two guys on the mound, that was the story tonight,' Holliday said. 'Everything that you do to score a big number happened for us.'
Holliday asked Riggio if he wanted to bunt in the fifth inning with two runners on base. But with a home run four innings earlier, Riggio answered 'not really.' He got the green light and hammered the second pitch he saw over the right field fence.'The second home run Roc hit tonight, that was a game-ender,' Holliday said.
Riggio extended his hitting streak to 12 games with his first home run. He said the biggest change was going into games with 'a clearer mind.' The Anglers second baseman moved to 16 for 47 (.340) with 12 runs and 14 RBIs during his hitting streak after Chatham's 6-0 win over Falmouth on July 27.
Righty pitcher Owen Stevenson never faced more than four batters in a frame.
'He doesn't worry about his velocity. He hits spots,' Holliday said.
Stevenson allowed three hits and issued one walk, letting Chatham's power hitters do the rest.