For a team on a three-game losing streak, Chatham stormed Guv Fuller Field with liveliness and animation before playing at Falmouth for the first time this season.
Routinely, the Anglers took fielding practice as Chatham assistant coach Dustin Williams dug baseballs into the grass. Like clockwork, cutoff throws filtered to home plate, skipping across the dirt and landing into the glove of Chatham’s catchers, making a dusty pop as they arrived. But something was noticeably different when the defense trotted back to the dugout. There was chatter. There were high fives. There were smiles. Above all else, there was communication.
When the matchup got underway, Chatham manager Tom Holliday was right there to back up the Anglers’ energy, passing along words of encouragement to his players. According to what he said before the game, Holliday had not slept the night before, but his number one piece of advice to his team was to have fun Thursday.
“If you don’t enjoy going to the ballpark, it starts at the top,” Holliday said. “You’ve got to try to find energy. If it doesn’t come from me, and if the umpires are gonna jump on the players for trying to have a little bit of fun, then it’s gonna be me.”
The advice never paid off, however, as Chatham dropped its fourth game in a row. Five allowed runs in the bottom of the fifth inning proved to be the deciding factor in the A’s (4–11–1 East) 13–4 loss to Falmouth (5–10–2 West).
“I’m not rolling over,” Holliday said. “We’re gonna turn this thing around. We have to get it to where people don’t say, ‘Chatham, oh yeah, let’s go get those guys.’ Right now, that’s what it is. People see us and they come after us. Your record tells people that.”
After striking out the second batter of the game, Chatham starter Tommy Molsky appeared to be revving with confidence. Holliday continued to instill this confidence in Molsky by occasionally yapping a “c’mon kid” or a “you got it Tommy,” and it appeared to work, as Molsky fanned the final batter of the inning.
Falmouth struck first, however, when Christian Martin floated a single over the outstretched hand of Aidan Meola, scoring Gavin Kilen.
Before Tate Ballestero came up to bat in the top of the third inning with Chris Maldonado on first base, Hudson White told the switch hitter to look for the breaking ball. The communication worked as Ballestero dialed up his fourth hit of the summer. After more supportive instruction from Holliday’s corner, Falmouth starter Logan Van Treeck hit Xavier Casserilla with a pitch to load the bases, and Lyle Miller-Green notched an infield single to knot the game 1–1.
Kyle DeBarge drove home the Commodores’ second run of the game in the bottom of the third inning, lifting a shot to right field. Ross Highfill then singled off Molsky through the infield to make it 3–1.
“We’re just gonna keep running people out there,” Holliday said of Chatham’s pitching staff. “Hopefully they’ll get in a groove and find it.”
In the top of the fourth inning, Carter Trice worked a leadoff walk and Nolan Schubart dribbled a single to bring up Maldonado with no outs, who manufactured a perfect bunt down the first-base line to advance the runners on a fielder’s choice. Moments later, Trice scored on a wild pitch to cut the Anglers’ deficit to one run. As Trice dove into home plate, Holliday audibly murmured “way to hustle, Tricey!”
Things took a bit of a turn when Kilen ripped a ball high into the air in the bottom of the fourth inning. Meola backpedaled, scanning the pop up, but couldn’t locate his teammate Schubart running in from behind him. The two collided, dropping Meola to the ground, and forcing him to exit from the game. Even then, Holliday was the second person out of the dugout to check on him, just trailing Chatham’s trainer, Julia Holland.
Another unfortunate incident occurred for the A’s when Molsky picked up a grounder and completely overthrew first base, which scored Falmouth’s fourth run. For the first time all game, Holliday kept silent, and the Commodores grabbed another run in the inning for a 5–2 lead.
“Five errors tonight, I mean, shoot,” Holliday said. “Yeah, that’s ugly. And that’s sad. We’ve got a routine ground ball to first base, costs us three runs. We got outfielders picking the ball up throwing the ball all over the place. The grass is not wet. There’s no excuse for that. And the Meola, Schubart thing—that’s a routine fly ball.”
Chatham continued to hang around, though, as Benge grounded out at second base to record an RBI in the top of the fifth inning. Even though Trice struckout to end the inning, Holliday pulled his team together with a “let’s go, we’re still in this” as the A’s trotted into the field with a new pitcher on the bump, Zander Sechrist.
Things fell silent again when Sechrist balked with a runner on second and third base, however, scoring Kade Snell with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Martin then fired an RBI double to right field, and Humphreys lined to the same location for Falmouth’s eighth run. Travis Bazzanna then clocked a two-RBI to make it 10–3.
“Tommy deserved better fate than what he got,” Holliday said of Molsky. “Tonight, our defense was sloppy, and Zander [Sechrist] tried to over-pitch. They hit the ball good but we gave them the count to hit it. Those are mental mistakes that show up on the scoreboard big. You gotta get ahead in the count. Boy, the simple fundamentals of pitching have just disappeared.”
Though Chatham lost 13–4, the Anglers’ final two pitchers, newcomer Aiden Jimenez and Trey Gibson, limited the damage to just one more run allowed. Ballestero punched an RBI sacrifice fly in the top of the sixth inning to earn Chatham’s fourth and final run.
“They’re a little bit like an all-star team,” Holliday said. “They’re proud to be here, and they’re proud to be in the uniforms. But guess what. We are representing a city in the Cape. We wear a uniform with a name on it. It’s tough for these guys to not fight for the one ‘on the back.’”