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Chatham's starter, offense struggle in 6–3 loss to Brewster

by Tyler Schiff
Sunday, July 02, 2023

Chatham's starter, offense struggle in 6–3 loss to Brewster
Every Chatham fan who traveled to Stony Brook Field on Sunday night probably wanted to see Hayden Durke succeed. The roots of his inconsistent season lay at Brewster.

During the Anglers’ season opener against Brewster, Durke lasted just one inning as a reliever, allowing six earned runs in an eventual 10–10 tie. Then, on June 25, he conceded another six to the Whitecaps in his first start of the season as Chatham fell 6–0.

As Durke stepped off the mound in the bottom of the first inning Sunday, his wild, erratic and lawless deliveries relinquished an early 3–0 lead. He was replaced by Maxx Yehl in the fifth. Chatham never got its advantage back.

“Tonight he showed signs of almost being there,” Chatham manager Tom Holliday said of Durke. “We gave him a three-run cushion to work with but it leads to one good at-bat, somebody gets one on him and we’re back to a tie.”

Though the pitching staff did well to limit Brewster’s scoring through the later innings, the Anglers (5–13–1 East) couldn’t recover from their sluggish beginning on the bump. After a blistering offensive start in the first frame, Chatham didn’t notch a single run and slumped to a second straight defeat, losing 6–3 to Brewster (7–11–2 East).

“We didn’t beat ourselves,” Holliday said. “I don’t know if we had as many walks as we had bad counts. We gave their hitters counts to hit in all night.”

In the top of the first inning, Deric Fabian needed just one pitch to produce a weak dribbler down the right-hand foul line and Lyle Miller-Green advanced the runner to third with a grounder. The Anglers possessed runners at the corners as Nolan Schubart stepped up.

Schubart swiftly fell into a 1-2 hole in the count and stepped away momentarily to regain his composure. Twirling his bat as he re-entered the left-handed batters box, Schubart geared up to swing and blasted a shot that traveled, and kept traveling, well over the fence in right field. The effort was an unmistakable two-run homer, engulfed by the surrounding trees, to give the Anglers a 3–0 edge.

Through the next three innings, it seemed as though Chatham’s production on both sides of the ball rested on how Durke performed. As the righty terminated Chatham’s advantage by surrendering four quick runs, the defense grew sloppy. Fabian missed a routine hit near third base and Chris Maldonado overthrew a simple toss to first in the process.

On the offensive end, the Anglers contorted from aggressive to timid. Schubart’s black-tipped bat never attracted the lethal contact it displayed in his first-inning moonshot while Matt Etzel and Hudson White struck out looking in the fourth and fifth frames.

“We didn’t make an offensive run,” Holliday said. "We had just one or two opportunities with a guy in scoring position from the first inning to the ninth.”

As Chatham’s side continued to be silenced, Durke had quietly orchestrated consecutive shutouts across the third and fourth innings with help from the rest of the infield. In the bottom of the fifth, Durke’s coveted fastball garnered a bouncer from Davis Diaz which resulted in the Anglers’ third double-play of the game. Still, Holliday deemed the recovery as tardy. Yehl came out of the pen and efficiently retired the final Brewster bat.

“He [Durke] settled in okay,” Holliday said. “It was still a battle for him, but he’s just not getting to where he wants to be fast enough.”

Kaeden Kent and Xavier Casserilla launched near-identical fly-outs to right field and Yehl trotted back on the bump in the bottom of the seventh inning. In relief, the stern-faced lefty strung together a comfortable two-inning stretch but couldn’t capitalize after tallying two outs. Facing a full-cout, with a Whitecap runner on third, Yehl induced a grounder in the top of the eighth which scampered past a diving Fabian and into the outfield.

Before Etzel could get a hand on the escaped attempt in center field, Brewster created a two-run cushion. The score was an unexpected first experience for Yehl. In three previous outings, the West Virginia product never gave up a run. Yehl blindly wandered even further into uncharted territory when Ike Irish recorded a home run to give Brewster insurance.

“I started commanding the zone but I kind of lost it,” Yehl said. “I was throwing balls low, making myself work harder than I had to, and I didn’t battle as hard as I needed to.”

In immediate response, Holliday didn’t hesitate to cycle in Jack Brodsky to finish the contest. But Chatham’s bats continued to struggle, failing to provide an answer to spark a comeback of any sort.

“We just don’t have the kind of club where we can score 10 or 12,” Holliday said. “We’re going to have to be better situational hitters, and we’re going to have to play an entirely new offensive game. Stay tuned.”