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Chatham, Brewster battle in combined squad scrimmage

by Cooper Andrews
Thursday, June 13, 2024

Chatham, Brewster battle in combined squad scrimmage
Two days before its 2024 season opener, Chatham battled Brewster in a combined scrimmage at Veterans Field. It was the first time in at least the last decade that the Anglers played in a preseason game where they mixed rosters with an opponent.

A's and Whitecaps players from each side frequently rotated in and out of the lineup, catchers called balls and strikes and pitching changes were made after each half inning. The “home” team was managed by Chatham first-year head coach Jeremy “Sheets” Sheetinger, while the “away” squad was helmed by Brewster head coach Jamie Shevchik. Through a six-inning contest, the away team came out on top with a 2-1 win.

From practicing the national anthem to giving a wide range of players live repetition, the scrimmage was key for Sheetinger to make sure his guys are well-equipped for the season.

“We're all trying to get comfortable, and I think if you want to be successful doing anything you better get comfortable quick,” Sheetinger said before the game. “So, I know for our guys, (it's important to be) comfortable here at Veterans Field, comfortable in the Cape and comfortable in Chatham.”

Sheetinger, primarily the head coach at Georgia Gwinnett College, said he has a strong relationship with Shevchik — Keystone College's head coach — which helped pave the way for the untraditional scrimmage. Sheetinger saw competing alongside Shevchik's team as the perfect opportunity to get his players acclimated, and spend time with a dear friend.

“I think maybe a little selfishly, (Shevchik and I) get to hang out for a day,” Sheetinger said. “But more than that, we get to blend the two teams, hang loose and play a little ball.”

Even though Sheetinger emphasized the scrimmage would not drive his Opening Day starters, it provided a glimpse into who Chatham's potential regulars could be.

On the home side, A's position players Jayden Davis (Vanderbilt), Ike Irish (Auburn), Kyle Lodise (Augusta), Ty Dalley (Mercer), Kyle Johnson (Duke) and John Bay (Austin Peay) highlighted the starting lineup. The team also rotated between pitchers Pierce George (Alabama), Karson Ligon (Mississippi State), Micah Ashman (Utah), Hayden Murphy (Auburn), Tanner Franklin (Kennesaw State) and John Armstrong (Auburn).

The “away” team's starting nine contained Chatham's Campbell Smithwick (Ole Miss), Luke Cantwell (Pittsburgh), Aiva Arquette (Washington), Landon Stripling (Texas Tech) and Austin Overn (USC). Its only listed pitchers from the Anglers were Liam Paddack (Gonzaga) and Logan Poteet (Vanderbilt), who was an extra bullpen option.

Chatham's pitchers highlighted the scrimmage, retiring each of the first nine away team batters. George began on the bump and tossed a gem in his unofficial Anglers debut, tallying two strikeouts to complete a 1-2-3 inning. Ligon showed promise on the hill too, as his fastball sat in the high 90's en route to a perfect top half of the second inning. Ashman, Utah's left-handed closer, followed up with a scoreless third — in which he displayed a blistering break on his slider.

While Davis drove in a run for the home team off a groundout in the first frame, the away side's first baserunner didn't come until the fourth. Murphy issued a walk to fellow teammate Poteet to lead off the bottom half. Though he sent the next three batters back to the dugout empty-handed to continue a combined no-hitter.

Neither side delivered a hit until the bottom of the fifth inning, courtesy of Lodise. With two outs facing Brewster lefty DJ Primeaux (LSU), the Chatham infielder ripped a line drive into the right-center field gap and legged out a triple. The home team couldn't capitalize, however, leaving Overn to drive in a game-tying run off a double in the top of the sixth.

An RBI groundout from Brewster outfielder Jayden Hylton (Stetson) gave the away side a 2-1 lead, in which the home team couldn't equalize in the final half inning. But for Sheetinger, Thursday's bout was more about getting used to swinging wood bats and shaking the rust off — rather than what the scoreboard read.

“I just want them to get out and move around,” Sheetinger said. “We've got guys that needed bullpens and get a better opportunity against live hitters, but again for our hitters, maybe they haven't seen live pitching in a couple of weeks. It's just a great opportunity to get our vision in line, put ourselves in a comfortable space and rock and roll.”