Chatham had the bases loaded with no outs in the bottom of the third inning. Down 4–1, Vanderbilt’s top batter in 2023, Chris Maldonado, stepped into the batter’s box. But an inning later, the A’s were down 8–1.
It isn’t expected of any batter—even one that hit .310 with the No. 4 team in college baseball—to always hit a grand slam with the bases loaded. That has likely never been accomplished in the history of the sport, and likely never will be. But as a fan of any team, it is just ruthless, awful and head scratching, to watch a batter in that situation hit into a double play.
“There’s your chance to get right back in it,” Chatham manager Tom Holliday said of the double play with the bases loaded. “[Maldonado] hits a rocket, the guy not only catches it—he gets a double play out of it. So it’s almost like, ‘Hey, this is what tonight is boys.’”
Maldonado’s groundout summed up the mood at Veterans Field—gloomy and cold. In the 50-degree weather, a temperature many Chatham players weren’t acclimated to, the Anglers (2–5–1 East) were blown out 11–1 by Bourne (2–6–1 West).
“I mean at 4–1, it’s still a game,” Holliday said. “When the game got away, it was just, you know, one of those things where mentally you don’t know whether a guy wants to pitch. You don’t know whether guys want to go back out there. And then temperature drops into the low 50’s and everyone’s sitting around trying to count outs. It’s an ugly game and that’s what it was.”
The key to Chatham starter Brody Brecht’s success in his first start was staying ahead in counts while mixing in his curveball. In his second start against Bourne, a lineup with the third-lowest batting average and the third-least hits in the Cape Cod Baseball League, that style continued to work.
After giving up a leadoff single in the bottom of the first inning, Brecht struck out three consecutive batters, all with breaking balls.
Lyle Miller-Green started things off for Chatham in the bottom of the first inning with a single through the middle infield. Maldonado piped a rocket to left-center in the next at-bat, making Bourne’s outfielder chase the ball all the way to the fence, but Miller-Green was gunned down at home plate to cease the rally.
Brecht dug himself a hole in the top of the second inning, walking the first batter and letting the next two batters single, respectively. With the bases loaded and no outs, however, Hugh Pickney fired a line drive that dipped right into the glove of Maldonado at first base. The runner on first was subsequently caught in the base path, and Maldonado tapped his foot on first to make the double play.
“Brody threw good,” Holliday said. “He threw real good. When you break four, five bats like that.”
Nevertheless, Aidan Meola missed a Paul Tammaro III ground ball which brought in two runs for the Braves. After allowing his first two runs of the season, Brecht struck out the final batter of the inning, Pete Ciuffreda.
Chatham put two runners in scoring position right away in the bottom of the second. With one out, Nolan Schubart ripped an opposite-field single and Xavier Casserilla doubled through the third-base line. A Henry Weycker wild pitch let Schubart walk home with ease to make it 2–1. Weycker stranded Casserilla by fanning two batters, though.
“Me, personally, I’ve been starting to get a feel for the wood bat, my timing has been better too,” Nolan Schubart said. “It’s just, all the guys are starting to trickle in, so I think as the weeks go on, we get deeper into the season and better on time.”
Brecht faced another bases loaded situation in the top of the third inning, this time with one out.
And very shortly into that situation, Brett Callahan stepped up to the plate and sliced a grounder through the right side for two RBIs for a 4–1 Bourne lead.
After posting his fifth punch out of the game and the second out of the inning, Brecht loaded the bases again. But the six-foot-five righty halted the Braves from there with his sixth strikeout.
The hitting sequences continued in the bottom of the third inning as Meola followed up a Sam Antonacci single with a crank to right field, putting runners on first and third base. Miller-Green walked to load the bases for Maldonado, but after the double play, the effort both in the field and in the bleachers only deflated.
“Yeah, you just gotta flush it and show up tomorrow and hope that everybody shows up with the energy you need to win,” Chris Maldonado said. “They executed pitches but, you know, we also had some hard outs early in the game which didn’t help our energy.”
Brecht’s start was snapped in the top of the fourth inning after the Braves put a man on first and third base. While Bourne led 4–1, Iowa’s righty finished with seven strikeouts and three earned runs.
Ervis Solis replaced Brecht on the mound and didn’t fare any better, handing out a two-RBI single to Garrett Michel. After hitting the next batter, Callahan roped a shot down the first-base line for another run and a 7–1 Bourne lead. Foster made it 8–1 with an RBI sacrifice fly.
Chatham mixed in two more relievers, Trey Gibson and Mario Pesca, to finish the contest. The two combined for two earned runs and six hits in the final four innings. On the other hand, the A’s offense went just as cold as the chilly night, posting zero runs in all innings except one.
“Gibson was not the same guy,” Holliday said. “That was not real. That wasn’t his arm. I mean, he’s way better than that.”