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Chatham falls 10–6 to Falmouth, pitching staff gives up double-digit runs in second straight game

by Tyler Schiff
Saturday, July 15, 2023

Chatham falls 10–6 to Falmouth, pitching staff gives up double-digit runs in second straight game
Gabe Davis dusted the mound with his foot and stared straight ahead. He shrugged his shoulders and pitched to Falmouth’s Kyle DeBarge.

Davis’ stoic demeanor refused to let any emotion escape. It did well to hide any indication of a bases-clearing grand slam that gave the Commodores a 6–3 lead.

Following a swift 1-2-3 first inning, Davis allowed an atypical six runs in the bottom of the second frame–a stark contrast from his 0.93 ERA and nine strikeouts over three previous appearances this season.

“He’s been great all year so this is just a blip for him,” Chatham relief pitcher Liam Paddack said. “He didn’t have the best night but I know he’s going to come back even better.”

The sluggish start dug an early hole, even after the Anglers jumped out to an early 3–0 lead. For the second game running, an opposition grand slam blew the game wide open.

Fresh off a 15–6 loss at Hyannis on Friday, Chatham’s (7–17–1 East) pitching remained errant, slumping to a 10–6 defeat at Falmouth (14–13–2 West). The Anglers’ loss marked the eighth time this season where a Chatham starter surrendered five or more runs, in four innings or less, and the 13th time in total.

“We’ve got to get in the zone and locate better,” Paddack said. “Just simplifying our stuff, yeah, we could be really good.”

Falmouth starter Michael Barnett delivered six straight balls to begin the game. He walked Chatham’s JJ Wetherholt and Kaeden Kent but eventually fanned Xavier Casserilla.

Barnett’s slow beginning was uncharacteristic. Across three starts with Falmouth this summer, the righty boasted a 3.17 ERA, recording 11 strikeouts in 11.1 innings. Barnett’s two walks in the first inning were his first since July 1.

Chatham’s Nolan Schubart hopped, right-foot first, into the left-handed batter’s box and waggled a black-tipped bat above his shoulder. Unable to garner a hit in any of the A’s last four contests, Schubart desperately needed a spark, especially with runners on first and second base. He took Barnett’s opening toss deep toward center field for a home run to make things 3–0.

“To start off three-zip, I felt we did a very good job of being disciplined in the strike zone,” acting manager Maty Lees said. “We took advantage of the walks that were given to us and when that happens they [Falmouth] should pay for it.”

The top of the second and third innings, however, induced four consecutive fly-outs for Chatham. Casserilla and Schubart earned walks but Chris Maldonado struck out before Aidan Meola floated a ball that nestled into the leather of Falmouth’s John Spikerman.

All game long, the Anglers barrels successfully popped balls into play. Equipped with optimistic flight and an encouraging trajectory, their shots drew hope but could never find an unprotected patch of grass.

“We didn’t get the result we wanted, for hits, but we scored a lot of balls up,” Lees said. “I felt like our swings had a tint, they were committed and that’s all you can ask for.”

Paddack replaced Davis in the bottom of the third frame after a wild pitch gifted Falmouth its seventh run. Davis exited the contest, his low-dipped cap unable to mask a tightly-clenched jaw. Davis’ delivery had escaped Pittsburgh catcher Jayden Melendez’s grasp. The mistake drew a lively reaction from the Commodores’ dugout and Chatham’s Hudson White was brought on in place of Melendez.

“I just wanted to make a change,” Lees said about the reconfiguration. “We were down a few runs and I felt Hudson’s bat could provide a little more steam. I just felt like I wanted to do that.”

Paddack tallied a strikeout in six hard-fought pitches to end the third inning but pelted two batters in the fourth. He first peppered Falmouth’s Travis Bazzana before nailing Tyler MacGregor’s left shoulder. Then, Paddack loaded the bases which produced the Anglers’ fourth walk of the evening. The fifth permitted Bazzana to comfortably trot home, generating a five-run cushion.

“Too many walks is unacceptable,” Paddack said. “Obviously my outing didn’t go the way I wanted to by any means but being able to adjust and find a way to get some zeros is a win for me.” The lefty finished with three earned runs but commanded shutouts in the fifth and sixth frames.

Gavin Turley entered Saturday’s contest without a single hit all summer. The Commodore had come up empty in 27 prior at-bats. But, mounting another forgettable showing from Chatham’s pitching staff, Turley managed to tally his first and second hits of his Cape League career. In the bottom of the fourth, Turley took one to shallow left-center field for two runs and a 10–3 advantage.

Falmouth reliever Hunter Hodges, who was inserted in the top of the sixth inning, garnered a prompt mound visit from Commodore skipper Jeff Trundy after juicing the bases in the same frame. Hodges’ fourth straight walk brought Meola home and the Anglers inched within five as Hodges surrendered another four balls.

In response, Trundy brought in a new arm. Casserilla took advantage of a rushed Commodore warm-up, in the right-field bullpen, with a single to left field to cut the deficit to 10–6.

Midway through the bottom of the seventh, Chatham’s Zander Sechrist stepped in for Paddack. Sechrist fanned the first two batters he saw and pointed a lone finger to the sky in celebration as the Anglers’ offense readied themselves.

“We’ve been looking for that the whole year,” Paddack said of Sechrist. “He let it hang tonight and that goes to show the type of work he’s put in.”

Though Sechrist channeled his first scoreless inning in 2023 by shutting out Falmouth in the eighth frame, Chatham failed to carry its defensive momentum to the plate.

“We’ve got to clear our heads and simplify,” Paddack said. “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”