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Game 1 Preview: Chatham at Wareham

by Zak Wolf
Saturday, June 15, 2024

Game 1 Preview: Chatham at Wareham
Chatham starts its 2024 season on the road against Wareham in manager Jeremy “Sheets” Sheetinger’s first-ever game in charge of the Anglers.

The A’s tied their season opener 10-10 last season in a back-and-forth battle with Brewster. The Whitecaps scored seven runs in the sixth inning, but Chatham battled back to retake the lead before Brewster tied the game soon after.

Chatham finished fifth in the East Division last year with a 15-27-2 record and missed the playoffs for the third straight season. The Anglers’ .242 batting average ranked second to last in the Cape Cod Baseball League while their 6.18 ERA was the worst.

Heading into the season, Sheetinger emphasized a patient offensive approach at the plate and to prevent any “selfish at-bats.” When players get on base, Sheetinger said the A’s will be aggressive in their base-running with plenty of attempted steals along with going first to third and trying to score from second. The first-year manager’s focus remains improving the culture around Chatham, which he hopes will garner better on-field results.

Here’s everything to know before Chatham (0-0 East) travels to Wareham (0-0 West):

Probable Starters

Evan Chrest (Jacksonville) will be the first starter of the season for Chatham Saturday. Chrest was one of the best pitchers in the country as a freshman in 2023, but struggled as a sophomore. The righty finished 8-2 and had a 2.68 ERA in his first season of collegiate baseball, but won just two games in 2024 as his ERA rose to 6.82.

Not only did Chrest’s ERA rise, he didn’t pitch as much. Chrest totaled 90.2 innings last season, but pitched in 68.2 this year in the same amount of appearances (15). Despite his struggles, Sheetinger is entrusting Chrest with being Chatham’s top starter as he looks to bounce back this summer.

Wareham will start lefty AJ Colarusso from Boston College. Colarusso struck out 63 batters in 65 innings with the Eagles, yet was inconsistent throughout the season. The Leominster, Massachusetts, native finished with a 7.51 ERA and allowed 13 home runs.

Chatham Players To Watch

Luke Cantwell will be a big piece for the A’s in 2024, bringing patient at-bats whenever he comes to the plate. In his first season with Pittsburgh after two seasons at Fairleigh Dickinson, Cantwell set the single-season program record for walks with 57. He had the third-highest on-base percentage in the ACC (.511) and batted over .300 for the second straight season. Sheetinger said Cantwell has “pro at-bats” due to his detailed approach at the plate and his ability to “know the zone.”

Kyle Lodise will be another strong bat in Chatham’s lineup. Lodise dominated with Augusta University at the Division-II level this season with a .369 batting average and .498 on-base percentage. Lodise also led the team in slugging percentage (.693) and recorded a team-high 49 RBIs. Following his stellar performances, the infielder transferred to Georgia Tech in the offseason.

Wareham Players To Watch

The Gatemen held the worst batting average (.237) in the CCBL last season, but they’ll look to put those struggles behind them in 2024. Both Colby Turner (San Diego State) and Eli Putnam (Davidson) are set to improve Wareham’s offensive output.

Turner was an elite hitter in his freshman season at San Diego State with a .361 batting average while driving in 30 runs in 34 appearances. Putnam was even more productive, batting .352, blasting 16 home runs and recording 58 RBIs as a junior.

Number To Know: 83.2

Since taking over as Gwinnett Georgia College’s head coach in 2020, Sheetinger has a 83.2 % winning percentage. Outside of his first season, which ended abruptly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sheetinger has failed to win at least 50 games just once.

Despite it being his first game in charge of the A’s, Sheetinger’s been one of the most successful coaches in the NAIA with an overall record of 223-45 with Gwinnett. He’s led the Grizzlies to four straight NAIA College World Series appearances, including a title victory in 2021.

Last Time They Played

As a continuation of a game from July 10, 2023, that was suspended due to fog, Chatham scored six runs in the eighth inning to defeat Wareham 7-2 on July 18.

The Anglers trailed 2-0 through five innings, before JJ Wetherholt got them on the board in the seventh. After tying the game, Xavier Casserilla drew a walk to put Chatham in front 3-2 before Bryce Martin-Grudzielanek’s ground-rule double put the Anglers up three to hold on for a win.