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Chatham allows six runs in third inning in 15–6 loss at Hyannis

by Graham Dietz
Friday, July 14, 2023

Chatham allows six runs in third inning in 15–6 loss at Hyannis
With the bases loaded, Chatham reliever Trey Gibson tried to remain calm. Relief pitchers in baseball can’t do anything about the past. But they can do their best to control the future.

The Anglers’ starter, Tanner Witt, had just plunked his third Hyannis batter of the night to prompt a signal to the bullpen. Chatham acting manager Marty Lees snatched the ball out of the righty’s glove and passed it to Gibson. As Witt sluggishly walked back to the bench, Gibson strutted onto the mound, appearing flustered by the impending situation.

Gibson walked the first batter he faced and Hyannis’ Brody Donay stepped up to bat. Donay took four pitches to generate a 3–1 count. Planting his feet in the red clay, Donay swiped at the next pitch he faced and connected, spawning a thunderous crack to register his second home run in his second at-bat. His grand slam made it 9–2 for Hyannis in the bottom of the third inning.

Donay finished with six RBIs to help the Harbor Hawks (16–12–1 West) topple Chatham for the third time this season. Though Hyannis’ six-run third frame propelled it to a seven-run lead, the Anglers (7–16–1 East) tacked on four of their own in the top of the fourth. It wasn’t nearly enough in the eventual 15–6 loss.

“Some guys are trying to get their mojo back,” Lees said. “Tanner’s gonna be fine. Trey gave up the grand slam but he continues to get better. We need to get outs quicker. And it’s just like minor-league baseball—sometimes, you need to have short-term memory and make small adjustments.”

Chatham leadoff batter JJ Wetherholt took an elongated hack at the first pitch from Hyannis starter Jack O’Connor. Despite striking out in his first at-bat for the A’s since June 18—Wetherholt left to compete with the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team—Kaeden Kent redeemed Wetherholt by knocking a dribbler to first base which allowed him to reach the bag on a late throw. A Trace Willhoite fly-out, however, left the Anglers scoreless in the top of the first inning.

Witt tapped his foot on the rubber three times before throwing his first pitch of the evening. Three pitches later, the Texas product pinned Nick Mitchell on the shoulder, who stole second and landed on third after a sacrifice fly. Cameron Smith brought the runner home with a blast to right field, which Kent caught but couldn’t chuck home in time.

Riding a two-game home run streak, Zach MacDonald crept into the right-handed batter’s box in the top of the second frame. Immediately, MacDonald looped a routine grounder to short which Zach Yorke couldn’t secure at first base. MacDonald safely stole second base and after two more outs, Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek stepped up to bat.

Martin-Grudzielanek blooped a runner down the right-hand foul line but collided with O’Connor. Home plate umpire Joe Cruz called the runner out for interference.

“We put together a couple of decent at-bats early,” Lees said. “But that’s the game of baseball. You get people on base and either good or bad things happen for you.”

After Witt nailed the first batter in the bottom of the second frame, Donay pummeled a low-rising shot which landed in the branches in left field to put the Harbor Hawks up 3–0.

Fabian knocked Chatham’s first hit of the contest to right field in the top of the third inning and a wild throw by Yorke put runners on the corners for the A’s. Kent registered a fielder’s choice RBI to grab Chatham’s first score.

O’Connor issued a walk to Nolan Schubart and MacDonald to extend the Anglers’ rally and a pitch into the dirt scored Kent to pull Chatham within one.

“His changeup was really working,” Wetherholt said of O’Connor. “Was kind of just grouping well with the fastball but we didn’t let it affect our approach. When he threw it over the plate, that’s when we got it.”

In the bottom of the third frame, Yorke ripped a line drive over Kent’s glove towards the scoreboard at McKeon Park to juice the bases. After hitting Will Taylor and surrendering a fourth run to Hyannis, Lees cut Witt’s night short, waving in Gibson from the Anglers’ bullpen.

Gibson walked home a fifth Harbor Hawks run to keep the bases loaded and Donay piped his second home run of the night to put Hyannis ahead 9–2.

“They were having good at-bats from the beginning,” Wetherholt said. “I think we gave them too many free passes and then they put important swings on the ball when they had runners on base. Just being a little more consistent with strikes and not letting them get on base for free. Making them earn it would have helped us today.”

Nevertheless, Chatham flipped the Harbor Hawks’ momentum upside down in the top of the fourth inning. Hudson White scooped an infield single and the Anglers never looked back.

A Wetherholt double scored Martin-Grudzielanek and Fabian. Wetherholt then scored on an errant pitch. Willhoite laced a single to center field to cut the A’s deficit to 9–6 but Yorke stuffed a tenth run for Hyannis in the bottom of the inning.

A pitcher’s duel commenced for the next three innings until the Harbor Hawks painted three runs in the bottom of the seventh and two in the eighth. Chatham couldn’t score in the final five frames as it fell 15–6.

“We’re doing some different things,” Lees said of changing the team dynamic. “For instance, if you’re not hot in the bullpen, I want you in the dugout. I want to feel that good energy. If you put all the pitchers down on one end and you have five or four position players, I’d like a little better connection there. I want them fighting for the exact same thing.”