Chatham’s pitching staff gives up four homers in 11–5 loss to Red Sox
Trey Gibson raised his ballcap and tilted his head toward the foggy sky. Turning away from home plate, he stared at the two hundred or so fans in the patchy outfield grass. It appeared like Gibson was praying to the heavens.
The righty slipped off his glove and took a deep breath as the Anglers' catcher, Kaden Hopson, and shortstop, Kaeden Kent, approached him. Chatham manager Tom Holliday stood up. Without hesitation, and with Gibson’s start already in jeopardy in the top of the second inning, Holliday walked to the mound.
The Liberty product, who averaged a 9.00 ERA in two prior appearances this summer, nearly threw a 12-pitch, 1-2-3 top of the first inning if it weren’t for a dropped catch on a Max Viera rocket to center field. Gibson picked himself back up with a strikeout on Hunter Hines, but his next inning told an entirely new story.
Gibson's prayer in the bottom of the second inning was never answered. After surrendering three runs, a Hines grand slam gutted Gibson. His suffering didn’t end with the four-run homer, though, as the Red Sox (9–5–1 East) produced an eye-popping four home runs to defeat the Anglers (4–9–1 East) 11–5.
“Things like that are gonna happen,” Chatham assistant coach Marty Lees said. “They happen on every college team, they happen on every summer team.”
Matthew Etzel, Chatham’s leadoff batter, recorded his second hit of the season in the bottom of the first inning, pushing an opposite-side single to left field. A Carson Benge walk then put two runners on base as Lyle Miller-Green stepped up. In response, Y-D’s manager Scott Pickler paid Nicholas Judice, the Red Sox starter, a mound visit.
Swinging his bat like a pendulum in front of the plate, Miller-Green saw four consecutive balls to load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the first inning. Another walk issued to Nolan Schubart brought in Etzel to put Chatham up 1–0.
“I think Etzel’s gonna be a really good player,” Lees said. “He’s got tremendous speed. He’s got skills to hit all of the field. He’s exactly what our team needs and tough as heck.”
An awkward pitch that skipped to the red-brick wall behind home plate scored Benge for a second Anglers’ run, and Kyson Donahue’s sacrifice fly to left field made it 3–0. Judice fanned Kaeden Kent to halt the rally there.
“When we faced him in my conference he had some trouble locating pitches,” Etzel said of Judice. “But once he starts locating, he’s a really good pitcher. We took advantage of him early when he was mislocating everything.”
Zander Darby laced a single through the infield to start things off in the top of the second, and Gibson plunked William Gleed’s helmet to put two runners aboard. A bunt advanced the runners to second and third base, but Xavier Casserilla raced towards the tap and fired to first to make the first out. Nevertheless, Y-D’s Casey Cook lifted a two-RBI double to left field to cut the deficit to just one run, and Connor Dykstra knotted the contest with an RBI single.
After another hit-by-pitch and a single, the bases were juiced for Hines, the Cape League's leader in home runs. The barrels flew all inning long for the Red Sox, and Hines’ barrel was no exception, as he piped a grand slam high above right field for his sixth home run of the season and a 7–3 Y-D lead.
“Well, you just tell him to keep his head up and try and score runs for him,” Benge said of his message to Gibson. “That’s all you really can do.”
Judice fared no better in the bottom of the second inning, walking the first two batters. But a Benge groundout turned double play ended the threat. On the flip side, Holliday replaced Gibson with Liam Paddack in the top of the third inning and the lefty reliever worked through the frame unscathed.
Y-D’s RJ Austin plated a solo home run in the top of the fourth inning off Padack, and Darby walked with the bases loaded to produce a ninth run.
Benge tallied his first hit of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning, spraying a roller to left field. Miller-Green then clobbered a towering home run into the trees at Veterans Field, narrowing the gap to 9–5. The no-doubter put the entire bleacher section on their feet. Their hands flew high above their heads in celebration.
“It’s something we can feed off of,” Lees said of the homer. “Also something pitchers can go out and feed off of too. The game is still in reach. Keep pitching, keep playing defense.”
In the top of the seventh inning, Dykstra pummeled a solo shot to notch the Red Sox’s third home run of the night. Y-D mustered its fourth homer in the top of the ninth as it topped Chatham 11–5.
“We’re in the game the whole time,” Lees said. “We just need to get a couple base runners and somebody to come up with a big knock.”