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Chatham cruises past Wareham 11-1 in 7 innings to open season

by Zak Wolf
Saturday, June 15, 2024

Chatham cruises past Wareham 11-1 in 7 innings to open season
Chance Cox (Austin Peay) got himself into a risky jam with Chatham leading 5-0 in the fifth inning. The A’s first arm out of the bullpen, following a stellar outing from starter Evan Chrest (Florida State), let up back-to-back singles, putting runners on first and second with no outs.

Cox looked to make matters worse when he threw a ball in the dirt to make the count 3-1, but Campbell Smithwick did well to get his body in front of the ball. Wareham’s Yohann Dessureault attempted to steal third base, but Smithwick reacted quickly and promptly threw him out with Landon Stripling (Florida) applying the tag.

The Gatemen still had a chance to put their first runs on the board, as Ty Dooley came to the plate. The second baseman chopped a ball right to Luke Cantwell (Pittsburgh) at first base. Cantwell barely moved before stepping on the bag and firing to Aiva Arquette (Washington) who easily tagged out Michael Lippe at second base as Cox got out of a difficult spot.

“We talk about how the ball of momentum is out over the field and when you make plays like that you swing that ball of momentum back into our dugout,” Chatham manager Jeremy “Sheets” Sheetinger said of the double play.

Other than Cox’s jam, the A’s first game under Sheetinger couldn’t have gone much smoother. Chatham (1-0, East) dominated Wareham (0-1, West) 11-1 in seven innings via run-rule to open up the 2024 Cape Cod Baseball League season with a win. The Anglers recorded 12 hits and drew six walks while Jayden Davis (Vanderbilt) and Ike Irish (Auburn) combined for six RBIs.

The A’s wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, sparked by an Austin Overn (USC) lead off double down the first base line. Irish prevented the inning from being spoiled with a two-out single, which bounced over Dooley’s head at second base to put the A’s up 1-0 in the top of the first inning.

Chrest took full advantage of the early cushion his offense provided. Jace Rinehart lined a ball into center for Wareham’s first hit, but Chrest quickly recorded two straight outs to end the first frame unscathed.

The righty then mowed down Wareham’s lineup in the second with a one-two-three inning, striking out Triston Gray and David Pedanou before getting Dessureault to fly out to center field.

Described as a “low heartbeat guy” by Sheetinger, Chrest rarely fell into trouble against the Gatemen, only letting up four baserunners in 3.1 innings of work. Sheetinger said Chrest pounded the strike zone, but also trusted his defense to make plays behind him.

Following Chrest’s shutdown second inning, Chatham attacked Wareham pitcher AJ Colarusso. Smithwick’s leadoff single got the party started, which Overn followed by a double into left center. Davis drove one in both runners with a single to center, increasing the A’s lead to 3-0 with nobody out.

Irish tacked on another with the A’s fifth hit of the inning before Cantwell capped off their scoring with a sacrifice fly, making it 5-0.

Wareham attempted to respond in the bottom half of the third, putting runners on first and second with two outs following a Rinehart single. Yet Chrest remained composed, getting ahead 0-2 to Rylan Galvan and forcing him to hit a lazy pop fly to center field.

Chrest started the fourth with his sixth strikeout of the game, getting Nate Earley to go down looking. But after a single from Gray, he was replaced by Cox out of the bullpen.

Facing Pedanou, Cox attacked him early with his fastball. On a 2-2 count, Pedanou grounded a ball right to Aiva Arquette (Washington) at shortstop. Arquette quickly flipped to Davis who turned the double play to end the inning.

Despite Cox getting himself into a jam when he came back out for the fifth, he left without a blemish — keeping Chatham in front 5-0.

Similar to the third inning, the A’s remained patient at the plate and attacked pitches they wanted to in the top of the sixth. Anthony Steele came in as Wareham’s third pitcher after Tony Pluta threw two scoreless, but Steele struggled mightily.

Two straight singles put runners on first and second. Then, Overn bunted to Steele but nobody covered first, which loaded the bases. Davis and Irish both drew walks to score two runs, causing Steele to be pulled despite recording just one out. Gatemen reliever Anthony Watts didn’t fare much better as Arquette hit another ball through the left side to score Chatham’s eighth and ninth runs of the game.

The A’s continued to score in unconventional ways, with Watts getting called for a balk to bring Davis home followed by a wild pitch to score Arquette, making it 11-0.

“They did a great job of just not buying into anybody's game plan and sticking true to who they are,” Sheetinger said. “We'll take walks. Our job is to get on base and when we get on base, we score runs, that's what matters.

Malachi Witherspoon (Oklahoma) was Chatham’s second arm out of the bullpen, entering in the top of the sixth. The righty prevented any implosion, mostly utilizing his fastball to throw a scoreless frame. Wareham got on the board in the seventh after Lippe drove in a run with a one-out single, but Witherspoon got two more outs to close things out prematurely with the A’s up 10 runs after the seventh inning.

Winning by the run rule was something Sheetinger “never imagined” in his first game at the helm, but he knows his team won’t have that luxury every night. As of now, Sheetinger is laser focused on having his team ready to win a second straight game against Yarmouth-Dennis.

“Tomorrow's a new day and a new opportunity,” Sheetinger said. “For us, we have to make sure we continue to build upon the things that we're learning and we're finding out about ourselves and we bring that mentality to the ballpark each day.”