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A’s comeback falls short, loses home opener to Yarmouth-Dennis 2-1

by Cooper Andrews
Sunday, June 16, 2024

A’s comeback falls short, loses home opener to Yarmouth-Dennis 2-1
Jeremy “Sheets” Sheetinger took the microphone to address Chatham’s faithful before the first pitch of the A’s home opener.

His voice echoed throughout the Veterans Field loudspeakers as the sun radiated upon a packed set of bleachers behind home plate. A new era of Anglers’ baseball was here. The excitement to see a new crop of players was palpable.

“I want Angler fans behind the backs of these guys,” Sheetinger exclaimed to the crowd. “These guys are the rockstars, let’s be all in all the time behind them.”

During his speech, the first-year manager brought up the four “A’s” of Angler’s baseball that he’s instilled within the organization. Appreciation, action, attack and being all in. Even though the A’s proved they possess each of those four pillars with their run-rule win over Wareham Saturday, they ran into a tougher test the following night.

Chatham (1-1, East) fell to Yarmouth-Dennis (2-0, East) 2-1 in its first home game of 2024. Despite a stellar debut from starting pitcher Griffin Herring (LSU) — where he tossed 3.2 scoreless, no-hit innings — the A’s and Red Sox were locked in a scoreless affair for four consecutive frames. Yet Y-D methodically plated runs off base hits, patient at-bats and taking advantage of miscues to build a lead.

All the while, Chatham was held to four hits by a stout Red Sox pitching staff. Will Gasparino (Texas) provided an eighth-inning spark, crushing a pinch-hit home run to center field. Still, the A’s couldn’t claw their way back.

“It’s a game of failure and for us, it’s an opportunity to learn,” Sheetinger said postgame. “For us to continue to square up baseballs and you’re inches away from one of those breaking open, it’s part of the game. It’s a great way for us to stay humble, which is a great way to stay even-keeled.”

The “A” that’s been most apparent thus far under Sheetinger has been the need to attack. It’s what he’s vehemently preached to his pitching staff. He said before the season that he wants guys who throw strikes and put together efficient outings — which is just what Herring did.

Herring, a 2024 National Stopper of the Year candidate, earned the start in Chatham’s home opener. Through 39 appearances across two years at LSU, Herring was the Tigers’ mainstay long relief option yet only received one start. An adjustment appeared to be in order, though Herring was more than comfortable on the bump.

“I thought he did a great job of mixing pitches and keeping them off-balance, he had some putaway pitches that were really sharp,” Sheetinger said of Herring. “For him, (it was about) getting him back in that routine, he hadn’t been a starter at LSU … He certainly did his job, man. He gave us a bunch of zero’s there.”

Herring tossed three straight no-hit frames to begin his start, racking up three strikeouts in the process. Herring’s fastball sat in the low 90’s, while his blistering slider rested in the high 80’s to keep Y-D hitters off balance. He went at batters early, painting the zone with strikes, and induced a litany of soft contact early on to keep his pitch count below 20 through two innings.

The lefty faced a little trouble in the third after he issued a walk to Yarmouth Dennis first baseman Ryan Sprock. But Herring K’d Phoenix Call looking, then Chatham catcher Logan Poteet (Vanderbilt) gunned down Sprock after he attempted to steal second.

Through it all, though, Herring received no run production from the A’s offense. Red Sox starter Braden Osbolt was tossing his own gem, allowing just one hit through three frames.

Herring tallied a couple more quick outs in the fourth, though he was subbed out for right-handed pitcher John Armstrong (Auburn). Armstrong escaped the frame unscathed, allowing Herring to finish his night with a shutout.

Chatham entered the fourth with the top of its order due up. Yet Osbolt continued to deal, sitting down Austin Overn (USC), Jayden Davis (Vanderbilt) and Ike Irish (Auburn) one-two-three.

“He did a great job of commanding the strike zone,” Sheetinger said of Osbolt.

Armstrong trotted back out to the mound without any insurance and after forcing a groundout, he put Y-D’s Charlie Saum and Sprock on first and second via walks. Call stepped up in the box and drilled a fastball into center field to score Saum as the Red Sox took a 1-0 lead.

Replaced by Armstrong was Phil Fox (Pittsburgh), who got out of the two-runners-on jam without further damage. A highlight putout by Aiva Arquette (Washington) ended the top half of the fifth as the third baseman tracked a ball into foul territory and snared it with his head against the protective netting.

The tides began to turn in the sixth, but not for long. Kyle Lodise (Georgia Tech) led off the frame, drawing a walk for the A’s first base runner since Overn led the game off with a single. Osbolt then hurled a wild pitch, which advanced Lodise to second. While Ty Dalley (Mercer) struck out swinging, Lodise moved to third base off a groundout to the right side by Poteet.

With Overn at the dish, and a chance to square the game at 1-1, he dribbled a ball to Yarmouth-Dennis third baseman Cade McGee to end the scoring chance.

The Red Sox capitalized in the top of the seventh as a wild pitch from Micah Ashman (Utah) paved the way for Saum to cross home — giving Y-D a 2-0 advantage. Chatham couldn’t plate a run in the bottom half as its struggles continued.

Then came the eighth inning.

It began with a loud crack off the bat of Gasparino, who blasted a pinch-hit home run off Pablo Torres into deep center field to cut the A’s deficit to 2-1.

“That’s exactly what we expect,” Sheetinger said of Gasparino’s debut. “He had a really solid freshman campaign at Texas and so getting his feet wet with an at-bat under the lights (was important).”

Lodise kept the momentum going, belting a stand-up double into left-center field. The Anglers were rolling out of nowhere.

Yarmouth-Dennis opted for a pitching change, subbing in Trevor Moore. Dalley had an opportunity to knock in the tying run, yet Lodise tried to steal third early in the at-bat and Saum threw him out. Chatham’s promising inning ended with one run as Dalley and Campbell Smithwick (Ole Miss) were retired in succession.

A clean top of the ninth for Anglers’ reliever Drake George (Lewis-Clark State College) set Chatham up with a chance to walk it off. However, Moore struck out Overn, Davis and Irish to end the A’s comeback hopes.

“We’ll learn how to win these games,” Sheetinger said. “We’ll learn how to be better at our home field, and it was a beauty to see (Veterans Field) tonight.”