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Chatham walks 10 batters in 8–2 loss at Bourne

by Tyler Schiff
Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Chatham walks 10 batters in 8–2 loss at Bourne
It wasn’t flawless, but Miles Langhorne performed well through the first two innings, refusing to allow a single hit. In the bottom of the third, however, trouble began to brew for Chatham’s starter.

Bourne’s Caden Bodine loosened his shoulders and revved up his bat. As Langhorne’s delivery neared, Bodine lifted his right leg to generate power and floated a hit into shallow left field. The bases were already loaded.

Bodine scurried toward first base as Bryce Eblin and Chris Stanfield rounded third and scampered home to put the Braves up 2–0. A frustrated Langhorne punched his glove in disgust. Garrett Michel then launched a deep ball into left field for an RBI double.

“It’s almost like the perfect thing gets cracked and then the crack just starts spreading,” Chatham manager Tom Holliday. “It’s like hitting a window and all of a sudden it just falls out. You have to be a little bit tougher than that.”

The Anglers’ struggles on the mound only escalated from there. Holliday was forced to cycle through five total pitchers in search of an answer, but none could be found. In its first visit to Doran Park this summer, Chatham (4–10–1 East) gave up a season-high 10 walks to fall on the wrong side of an 8–2 scoreline at Bourne (8–7–1 West). The loss marked the A’s third consecutive defeat.

“You can’t beat anybody walking ten people,” Holliday said.

Entering the contest on a two-game hitting streak, Mathew Etzel opened up his third Chatham appearance with a grounder to first base for an easy out. Sam Antonacci lined a single into shallow center field to garner the Anglers’ first hit in the top of the first inning but Nolan Schubart struck out. Bourne starter Bryce Cunningham then retired Carson Benge.

In response, Langhorne cruised through the Braves’ initial three hitters, inducing a weak dribbler from Derek Bender for the frame’s final out after fanning the first two.

The top of the third inning generated an Etzel fly-out before Cunningham walked Antonacci to bring up Schubart. Facing three balls and two strikes, Schubart readied for another toss but never got the opportunity. Antonacci was gunned down at second base following an attempted steal.

“We had runners in scoring position quite a bit today and just never got that big hit,” Langhorne said. “We seem a little unlucky right now. But with baseball, that’s how it works. It’ll turn around.”

With Bourne back up to bat, Gage Harrelson fired a shot into deep left field and darted toward first base. The effort moved Jonathan Vastine to third. Harrelson later stole second but a Chris Stanfield bouncer nestled perfectly into Aidan Meola’s glove who quickly dished to Hudson White at the plate, eliminating an incoming Vastine.

Chatham’s efficient fielding was short-lived, however, as Bodine and Michel’s heroics boosted Bourne to a commanding 3–0 lead.

“We struggled with walks,” Langhorne said, echoing Holliday’s sentiment. “We have to stop walking so many guys, that’s our biggest problem as a staff right now, myself included.”

Chris Maldonado pushed a high-fly ball out past Bryce Eblin and into right field in the top of the fourth inning. Kendall Diggs rushed forward to meet the attempt but dropped it. Schubart, who had made it to third base off of a wild pitch, already expected the worst. Instead of dashing home, he backed off before spotting Diggs’ blunder. Schubart’s dejected trot shifted into a full-scale sprint to help Chatham draw within two.

The top of the fourth inning signaled the end of Langhorne’s stint. In relief, North Carolina’s Ben Peterson arrived on the bump and struggled immediately, recording four balls in his first five pitches to walk Vastine. Two fly-outs later, Eblin sent a shot sailing Antonacci’s head to score Vastine.

Chatham’s defense unraveled even further in the fifth frame, reaching unsalvageable limits. With Bodine perched at first base, Peterson intentionally walked Kendall Diggs before a Cameron Foster single loaded the bases. Facing Vastine, Peterson delivered his third walk of the inning, expanding the deficit.

“We’re a mess on the mound, that's all there is to it,” Holliday said.

Harrelson laced his second hit of the contest straight down the middle. The ball tore through the infield grass, narrowly missing Peterson’s ankles, and into Etzel’s leather. The centerfielder swifty hurled toward home but couldn’t prevent two more scores as the Braves’ cushion continued to grow. Stanfield’s sacrifice fly made things 8–1 and was enough for Holliday to replace Peterson with West Virginia’s Maxx Yehl.

Yehl lasted a mere 1.1 innings before Jack Brodsky came on for a single frame. Both pitchers combined for three hits and five strikeouts but were taken out hurriedly under Holliday’s cautionary eye. According to Holliday, he inserted two of his “best relievers” to escape the later innings, despite his hesitancy to reach further into the bullpen.

“The inability to stop an inning, the inability to make one pitch to get a big out, that’s what’s missing,” Holliday said.

After the pitching duo successfully kept Bourne scoreless, Lyle Miller-Green transitioned onto the mound from center field in the bottom of the eighth inning to keep Holliday from reaching further into the pen. The Austin Peay product stifled the Braves’ offense, but the Anglers never tallied another run in the 8–2 loss.

“That’s baseball,” Holliday said. “Sometimes it breaks your heart.”