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Anglers Weekly Roundup: Larson’s arrival, Overn stays hot

by Zak Wolf
Monday, July 01, 2024

Anglers Weekly Roundup: Larson’s arrival, Overn stays hot
Since a back-and-forth start to the season, Chatham has hit a rough patch. The Anglers split their first 10 games, but have dropped three straight for their longest losing streak of the season.

In its last six games, Chatham has scored at least three runs twice. During the A’s current losing streak, they’ve been outscored 26-7. Their most recent setback was a 10-3 loss to Bourne, a team that had lost six of seven games previously.

Despite Chatham’s recent struggles, manager Jeremy “Sheets” Sheetinger has remained steadfast in his mindset about how to get his team back on track.

“This is part of the league. When it gets you down, it wants to keep you down,” Sheetinger said. “For us, we just got to keep playing our brand of baseball, getting back to some winning ways and turn it around.”

The Anglers still remain tied with Brewster for third place in the East Division. If the playoffs started today, Chatham would be a part of the eight-team field because of Orleans’ measly 3-10 record.

Here are five things to know from Chatham’s (5-8, East) past week of games:

Ashton Larson’s Breakout

Ashton Larson (LSU) was a late addition to Chatham’s roster, getting activated on June 24. Ever since then, he’s been one of the Angler’ best players. The outfielder has done nothing but get on base since joining the A’s.

In five games, the right fielder has come to the plate 16 times and recorded seven hits. Larson’s .438 batting average is the best from any Chatham player. He’s provided a spark in the middle of Chatham’s lineup, batting sixth in its most recent game against Bourne.

With LSU this spring, Larson was an impact freshman. He played 53 games, registering 42 hits, driving in 16 runs and finished with a .401 OBP. Larson has continued the momentum he created with the Tigers this summer.

In Larson’s first full game with Chatham against Wareham on June 27, he produced a team-high three hits — all of which went for singles. His first extra base hit came the next day against Y-D. Larson blasted a second-inning double, later scoring to help the A’s take a 1-0 lead.

He stayed hot against Bourne with two more base knocks.

Offense Drying Up Late

Throughout its losing streak, Chatham has scored one run past the fifth inning just once. The Anglers have taken one-run leads in each of their last three games. But their leads haven’t lasted more than a half inning in each of those contests.

The best example was the Anglers' loss to Bourne. They loaded the bases twice in the first two innings against starter Tucker Novotny and looked to be in for a big offensive outing. But facing reliever Tyler Fay, Chatham’s offense remained stagnant. It produced just two hits past the third inning as the Anglers suffered their second-worst defeat of the season.

Postgame, Sheetinger emphasized the need for his team to make adjustments as the season wears on.

“We have to continue to do that in the middle innings and again, that's on us,” Sheetinger said. “We'll be better than those middle innings.”

The same was the case in its previous contest against Y-D. Dylan Vigue went 5.1 innings in his start and Chatham added just two more hits against the Red Sox’s three relief pitchers. During the Anglers three-game skid, they’ve scored just one run in 14.1 innings facing relief pitching.

Sheetinger knows good at-bats are key across nine innings. He’s implored Chatham to be patient at the plate and wait for their pitch, but it hasn’t always led to success. The A’s are tied for second-to-last in the Cape with 128 strikeouts.

Overn Stays Hot

In the first rendition of this series, Overn’s performances earned him a shoutout. A week later, nothing changed for Chatham’s starting center fielder.

Overn has been a shining star for the Anglers in the outfield. He ranks fifth in the league in OPS (1.017), sixth in batting average (.362) and third in slugging (.617). Overn also leads the league in hits with 17 while driving in a team-high eight runs.

An 0-for-3 outing against Brewster on June 21 was the catalyst for Overn’s hot streak. He followed it up with a six-RBI performance against Falmouth and since then, he’s reached base in six of seven games.

Not only has Overn's bat been a plus, but his defense and baserunning have also given Chatham a boost. He leads Chatham in stolen bases alongside Ike Irish (Auburn) with four. His aggressiveness on the basepaths have led to runs for the A’s with catchers throwing the ball away multiple times trying to get him out at third.

In the outfield, Overn’s speed and range provides Chatham with an elite defender. His ability to quickly track down shallow fly balls in center field and potential doubles in both gaps has been a bonus for the Anglers.

Base-running Disparity

Prior to the season, Sheetinger said his team was going to be aggressive on the base paths. At times, the Anglers have tried to be aggressive, but their opponents have also attacked on the basepaths.

Bourne wasn’t afraid to run on Chatham, stealing four bases. The Braves had 10 hits against the A’s. Bourne took advantage with its base running. On a couple of occasions, Bourne had runners attempt steals and the ball was put in play, allowing its runners to easily reach multiple bases.

Campbell Smithwick (Ole Miss) and Irish have struggled to throw runners out on the basepaths.

Meanwhile, the Anglers have 14 stolen bases, which is four more than Orleans, which rank last in the league with 10. Chatham has also had a number of baserunning blunders. Larson in the third inning Saturday took off on a 2-2 count, thinking that it was full. When Larson stood up after getting tagged out, he seemed confused at how he was tagged out.

A Dip In Starting Pitching

As of June 25, Chatham led the Cape Cod Baseball League in ERA with a 2.68 mark. Less than a week later, Chatham is now sixth in the league with a 4.07 ERA.

Most notably, Chatham’s last three starters all had previous success in their first outings, but struggled when returning to the mound. Liam Paddack (Gonzaga) had the longest start of the season, going 5.1 innings against Orleans on June 20, but facing Wareham, Paddack struggled.

While he allowed just one hit, the lefty walked two batters and hit a couple more. Paddack allowed three earned runs as the A’s fell 9-2 to the Gatemen. The same was the case for Drake George (Lewis-Clark State College), who pitched five scoreless innings in his debut on June 22. But against Y-D, George allowed a five-run third inning. The Red Sox recorded seven hits off George who exited after 4.2 innings of work.

For the second straight outing, Evan Chrest (Florida State) also had trouble producing clean innings. Chrest threw 3.1 shutout frames in Chatham’s 11-1 win over Wareham on Opening Day. But the righty allowed five earned runs against Brewster in his second outing and another five versus Bourne.

Chrest did have his longest outing of the year (four innings) striking out four batters. But a three-run bottom of the third inning allowed the Braves to take a lead they would never give up. Despite the up-and-down outing, Sheetinger remained confident in his starting pitcher postgame.

“Evan’s gonna be a great pitcher for Florida State and we're excited about moving forward,” Sheetinger said.