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Witt’s six earned runs prove costly in Chatham’s 8–4 loss at Spillane Field

by Tyler Schiff
Friday, June 23, 2023

Witt’s six earned runs prove costly in Chatham’s 8–4 loss at Spillane Field
Chatham pitchers Gabe Davis and Brian Holiday simultaneously gave starter Tanner Witt a sympathetic pat on the back as he made his way into the dugout, and for good reason. In his Chatham debut, Witt lasted just one inning.

The righty received his first mound visit from Chatham manager Tom Holliday after he juiced the bases in the first frame with no outs, allowing Wareham to tie the game on a sacrifice fly. His second came shortly after the Anglers conceded their first grand slam of the season.

“Coming from behind is not easy, it makes the other guy pitch easier,” Holliday said. “That was an ugly beginning.”

Witt’s struggles paved the way for yet another forgettable Chatham outing. At times, the Anglers looked in position to surmount Wareham’s early advantage but they consistently left runners stranded, forgoing prime opportunities in the second and fourth innings when they had the bases loaded. Ultimately, Chatham’s (3–7–1 East) bats stayed cold, resulting in a 8–4 road loss to the Gatemen (5–6–1 West).

In the top of the first inning, Chris Maldonado slid his bat through the dirt from left to right, then waggled it above his head. He faced seven pitches in his first at-bat, the fifth of which shattered his stick completely. When the Vanderbilt product finally connected, he popped a high-fly ball into right-center field for a routine catch. Equipped with runners on second and third, Maldonado’s hit brought Carson Benge home to make it 1–0.

“I thought we came off in that first inning pretty good with the bats,” Kyson Donahue said. “Unfortunately our starter struggled a bit but that’s just baseball.”

In the bottom of the first inning, Witt gave up a single to Wareham’s leadoff batter, walked the second, then tallied four straight balls to juice the bases with zero outs. A David Glancy sacrifice fly scored Josh Stevenson to knot the contest at one apiece.

Witt suffered another walk and Grant Hussey stepped up to the plate. For the second time in the frame, the Anglers fell victim to loaded bases. Hussey saw two strikes before unleashing a home run high over the right-field porch. Witt grimaced as all four Gatemen crossed home plate to open up a 5–1 Wareham lead. He was taken out for reliever Liam Paddack after Glancy notched an RBI single.

“I thought he looked a little stiff, a little muscled up,” Holliday said of Witt’s performance. ”Again, sometimes there’s no way to explain when a guy’s in a little bit of a slump.”

Facing a five-run hole, Paddack finished the second and third innings in shutout fashion but Chatham’s offense failed to capitalize. Donahue garnered his first hit in four games, and Aidan Meola was pelted by a pitch, before Mark Shallenberger loaded the bases in the top of the second. But, a Kaden Hopson fly-out was comfortably caught by Dorian Gonzalez. Janson Reeder and Benge then struck out to leave all three runners stranded.

“We had a good first inning offensively but we only scored one run which really bothers me,” Holliday said. “We get the bases loaded and all of a sudden it’s like I’m afraid I’m going to make an out instead of I want to be the star to get the hit.”

In the top of the fourth, Chatham’s first run stemmed from another Donahue single. After he lined one out to shallow center field, Meola followed the effort with a shot of his own and Shallenberger, again, packed the bases. This time around, Hopson’s floater brought the Anglers back within four, but a poorly-placed Reeder grounder generated a double play, effectively ending the inning.

“We’re not even seeing the ball,” Holliday said. “We’re swinging at pitches that aren’t even in the strike zone. We’ve got enough at-bats now that we should be able to see the ball and hit it good.”

Paddack didn’t last long, however, as he was replaced with Penn State’s Tommy Molsky in the bottom of the fifth inning. Though Paddack didn’t disappoint, recording four strikeouts in his second appearance this summer, he allowed a Hussey single to score another Gatemen runner, increasing the deficit to 7–2.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Wareham’s Garen Caulfield fouled twice to reach a 2–2 count. Eventually, he mashed a hit toward Schubart in left field. Schubart backpedaled, tracing the ball through the clouds, but missed the underhand grab. An inning prior, miscommunication in the outfield between Schubart and Reeder had resulted in a near-collision.

“That ball’s got to be caught every time and it’s a fly-ball that, quite honestly, if you don’t catch those, it makes for a big inning and they [Wareham] took advantage of it,” Holliday said.

With a runner on first and second base, Hussey continued his lethal performance at the plate and took a ball out to deep center field. Reeder closed in on the fence in pursuit, but the hit nestled in a patch outside of play. Reeder signaled to the second base umpire in complaint and a ground-rule double was issued, advancing Gonzalez home to put Wareham even farther in front at 8–2.

In the top of the eighth inning, Maldonado arrived on second base after a wild pitch and sprinted to third following a Xavier Casserilla dribbler along the left sideline. In an attempt to throw Casserilla out at first, relief pitcher Will Koger made an errant throw to his third baseman, Justin Colon. A scampering Maldonado noticed the mistake to run the final 90 feet, making things 8–3.

During the final frame, Wareham’s fourth pitcher of the evening, Yoel Tejeda, walked pinch-hitter Tate Ballestero who later scored a consolation run off a Benge line drive. Soon after, Tejeda struck out Maldonado.

“It’s time to correct things,” Holliday said. “And I guess that’s my job, so I will.”