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Standout pitching propels Chatham to 2–1 victory

by Tyler Schiff
Wednesday, June 21, 2023

Standout pitching propels Chatham to 2–1 victory
Yarmouth-Dennis’ Will King saw just one pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning and laced it into deep right-center field. Chatham needed two outs to grab its first win over Y-D in 2023.

The ball floated, and kept floating, destined for Chatham’s Janson Reeder. There was little doubt that the Kansas product would make the catch, but whether he could throw home in time, to prevent the game-tying run, was in question.

Nathan Archer stood at third base, awaiting the reception of King’s sacrifice fly, and immediately bolted when Reeder fielded the ball.

Reeder’s delivery skipped through the infield and landed perfectly in Kaden Hopson’s glove. Archer slid towards home in full stretch, but Hopson got there first to tag him out. Home plate umpire Joseph LaBella confirmed the call emphatically. Chatham had won.

“That’s the chance to be a star,” Chatham manager Tom Holliday said of Reeder’s heads-up play. “The fly ball wasn’t very far, wasn’t very deep, and Janson threw the ball right on the nose.”

Neither team’s offense got hot during a low-scoring, pitchers battle. Anglers starter Brian Holiday stifled Yarmouth-Dennis through the first five innings before Matt Wilkinson took care of the rest, conceding just two hits in the final four. Despite finishing on the wrong end of a collective 17–3 scoreline over the previous two games, the Anglers (3–5–1) bounced back in their second road contest at Y-D (5–3–1) this season to the tune of a 2–1 victory.

“They [Holiday and Wilkinson] were both outstanding,” Holliday said. “I mean, I have to split them up now because it’s our bread and butter. We threw a one-run game tonight.”

Red Sox starter Finnegan Wall and Holiday both enjoyed a 1-2-3 start before Chris Maldonado garnered a single into shallow center field for the opening hit. Then, following a Kaeden Kent walk to first base, Wall tossed two wild pitches, advancing Maldonado to third and Kent to second.

Next, Oklahoma State’s Carson Benge stepped into the batter's box for the first time all season. In his first at-bat, the right fielder unleashed a double that threatened the short outfield fence surrounding Merrill “Red” Wilson Field. Benge’s first of an eventual game-high three hits came short of a home run, but his effort scored Maldonado and Kent to make it 2–0.

“I’m really trying to pick off where I left off from this season,” Benge said. “I think I did that today and I’m in a pretty good spot moving forward for the summer.”

Holiday relinquished a walk in the following inning but that was all. In response, Wall forced Aidan Meola into a fly out and struck out Nolan Schubart.

With just one run on the board in the bottom of the third inning, Y-D's Max Viera positioned himself in the right-handed batter's box. The Cape Cod Baseball League's leader in batting average went up early in the count before tallying a sacrifice fly to center field.

Chatham’s best opportunity of the day arrived in the top of the fourth inning. Maldonado walked, Kent lined a hit over the head of Viera to get on base, and Wall hit the right foot of Benge to bring up Kaden Hopson. Yet, with the bases juiced, Hopson struck out looking.

In a forgetful relief performance facing Cotuit on June 15, Holiday suffered three runs in the A's 10–3 loss. But against Yarmouth-Dennis, the righty charted five strikeouts in four innings to earn the nod from Holliday for an extended stint on the mound. Holiday didn’t disappoint, keeping the Red Sox offense stagnant.

“I think overall it was definitely a better day,” Holiday said. “I was able to really get ahead in the count. I had my fastball and my curveball today. I didn’t really have my slider in the first couple of innings but started to find that later on in the game.”

After a depleting double-play handed Chatham a swift two outs to start the sixth frame, Benge piped a ball along the right sideline to land on first base. But Hopson followed the single by gifting Y-D’s Ryan Stafford a simple catch in left field to bring the defense back out.

Wilkinson replaced Holiday in the bottom of the inning. Recently named the CCBL's Pitcher of the Week after an eight-strikeout performance in the A’s 2–0 win over Orleans, Wilkinson walked leadoff hitter Nick Mitchell but had no trouble with the rest of the side.

“I knew when he was going in there that it was over,” Holiday said of Wilkinson’s feature in the win. “Either we were going to put on a couple of runs and win by a lot more or they were going to stay at one.”

Chatham and Yarmouth-Dennis combined for three runs across the opening three innings, but both sides were shut out the rest of the way. Apart from the slight jam Wilkinson slipped into, during the Anglers' search for the game’s final two outs, his deliveries prompted nothing more than routine fielding while Y-D reliever Hector Garcia silenced the visiting bats as well. It wasn't enough to overcome the 2–1 deficit, however.

“I mean, we can beat anybody in this league,” Holiday said. “It’s just whether we can show up on the day or not. Today we were able to show up and get a good team win.”