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Strong pitching, Arquette's 9th-inning RBI propels Chatham over Orleans 2-1

by Zak Wolf
Thursday, June 20, 2024

Strong pitching, Arquette's 9th-inning RBI propels Chatham over Orleans 2-1
Liam Paddack stood on the mound as if to admire his performance. He smiled and waited as his infield created a huddle around him while waiting for Chatham pitching coach Eric Beattie to climb up the dugout steps.

As Paddack (Gonzaga) made his way across the third-base line, he was met by a whole host of Anglers. Ty Dalley (Mercer) and Campbell Smithwick (Ole Miss) each high-fived Paddack before a pack of Chatham players congratulated the lefty.

Paddack, Chatham's only returning player from last season, had just completed the longest outing from an Anglers’ pitcher in 2024. Five and one-third innings of one-hit and two-walk baseball along with seven strikeouts was the final line for Paddack, who exited with an 0-2 count to J-P Smith as Phil Fox (Pittsburgh) replaced him.

“When you can be within yourself and trust the stuff that you have, you don't have to do much more than you already have,” Paddack said of his performance.

Paddack's elite outing helped propel Chatham (3-2, East) to a 2-1 win over Orleans (1-4, East). The A's mustered just five hits, but three of which came in the ninth as Aiva Arquette’s (Washington) RBI fielder's choice put the Anglers in front for good. The Firebirds came up with just four knocks, three of which from Roch Cholowsky, but the A’s arms stole the show.

With Paddack dominating, Chatham manager Jeremy “Sheets” Sheetinger” made a bold decision. Sheetinger decided to go to the bullpen and bring in Fox. The previous at-bat, Paddack hit Landon Moran but didn't display an erratic nature, only walking two batters in his outing.

A matter of fact, Paddack had been in complete control. Outside of one pitch where Cholowsky blasted a solo home run to tie the game at one in the fourth inning, Paddack rarely ran into trouble. He’d struck out seven batters and was on the brink of an eighth when Beattie trotted out of the dugout.

The method behind Sheetinger’s madness stemmed from research a couple days earlier where he came across a coach who suggested bringing pitchers out when they’re ahead in counts. Sheetinger’s first thought was that it was “ballsy” but unique at the same time, something akin to his style. The more he thought about it, the more he liked it.

Sheetinger introduced the idea to Beattie. He looked at him and said “let’s do it.”

“I'm always learning, always growing and I saw it and I liked the mentality behind it. Again, I like to think unconventionally,” Sheetinger said.

Dubbed “the perfect guy” for the scenario by Sheetinger due to his velocity, Fox recorded back-to-back outs, preserving a 1-1 tie as the decision paid off.

Despite the surprising exit, Paddack put together his best performance since joining the Anglers. Sheetinger said Paddack leaned on his experience from last season and wasn’t rattled by the environment.

“Every outing you go out there and you can learn from it. So I think I learned a lot last summer,” Paddack said.

The experience paid dividends against Orleans. Paddack “dominated hitters,” according to Sheetinger, getting ahead in counts with his fastball and punishing batters with his curveball.

Two strikeouts in the bottom of the first was the basis for Paddack as Chatham took the lead the ensuing inning. Luke Cantwell (Pittsburgh) reached on a hit by pitch before Arquette drew a walk after a nine-pitch at bat. Kyle Lodise (Georgia Tech) bunted to advance the runners and Kyle Johnson (Duke) drove in Cantwell.

Two baserunners across the second and third provided no trouble for Paddack, who’s one blemish came in the fourth inning. With two outs, Paddack hung a breaking ball over the plate to Cholowsky. The third baseman cranked a homer to left field, hitting a car in the parking lot to level the game.

Paddack stayed on the mound in the fifth and even with a throwing error by Jayden Davis (Vanderbilt), the righty capped off the inning by catching Colin Tuft off the base for a pickoff.

“We don't win that game without that quality start,” Sheetinger said of Paddack’s performance.

Turning to Fox the following inning was bold, but Sheetinger said the hard-throwing righty did exactly what he was supposed to.

“That was a game that you know, you couldn't flinch and you got to have a dude that’s stone cold and to do that can come in and throw strikes, but that’s got confidence in more than one pitch. That's Phil Fox defined,” Sheetinger said.

Fox’s fastballs befuddled Orleans hitters, tossing two and two-third’s scoreless with three strikeouts. Fox was challenged in the eighth when Mike Mancini led off with a single, but Lorenzo Meola grounded into a double play to put out any possible fire.

Soon after, Chatham’s bats came alive for the first time since the second inning. Orleans got solid outings from Evan Truitt (five innings) and Cody Bowker, who went three innings scoreless but the Anglers attacked closer Tucker Biven.

Sheetinger said during the off day Wednesday, he challenged his team to evaluate themselves through the first four games and figure out what worked. Sheetinger’s goal is to build self awareness within the group to know when “it's time to go a different direction.”

The A's made better contact throughout the night. Ike Irish (Auburn) was robbed of a home run in the first inning by Moran while Austin Overn (USC) and Arquette put the barrel to the ball, but nothing came of it. The Anglers finished with just five strikeouts despite entering Thursday with a league-leading 49.

The improved at-bats finally paid off with Overn (USC) setting the tone in the ninth. Falling behind 0-2, a ball and then four straight foul tips was the catalyst for a line drive to center. Back-to-back singles from Cantwell and Irish loaded the bases with one out. Arquette dribbled a ball just to the right of Tucker Biven on the mound. Mancini charged and threw to Meola at shortstop. Arquette sped his way up the first base line and beat out Meola's throw, signaling safe as he made contact with first base.

“We were all going safe in here,” Sheetinger joked while pointing to the dugout.

Arquette’s score set the stage for Titan Hayes (Austin Peay) to close the deal. Smith went down on three strikes and Hayes forced a groundout to Davis at second for the second out. Cholowsky lined a single into center, but Hayes got Eddie Yamin IV to strikeout, sealing the Anglers’ third win of 2024.

It was exactly the response Sheetinger was looking for after the A’s 11-1 drubbing against Hyannis. Sheetinger said he wants to challenge his group to be men. Thursday, the A’s did just that.

“You’ve got to answer the bell and this is a league that if you don't answer the bell and you respond timidly, you're gonna get chewed up,” Sheetinger said.