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Overn’s hot bat spurs Chatham’s 2-1 comeback win over Brewster

by Cooper Andrews
Tuesday, July 02, 2024

Overn’s hot bat spurs Chatham’s 2-1 comeback win over Brewster

Austin Overn loves his new bat. It’s a shiny, one could even say sparkling, Louisville Slugger with a royal blue handle and a hot pink barrel. He just had it shipped a few days ago. It’s the primary topic of conversation with teammates in batting practice.

But during games, it lives within the outer sleeve of his duffel bag. There’s a different bat that he refuses to put down.

Overn (USC) swings a manilla Louisville Slugger with pine tar spread all over the handle. He’s taken cuts with it all summer. He says he won’t stop using it until it breaks. It’s significantly more bare bones than his brand-new flashy stick. Yet, it gets the job done.

He entered Tuesday firmly entrenched among the best hitters in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Tied-first in the league in hits with 17. A team-best 1.017 OPS. Slugging over .600 — uncharacteristic power for a 6-foot lead-off man. And, while it may not be quantifiable by a number, he’s as clutch as it gets.

Chatham trailed 1-0 to Brewster with two outs in the top of the seventh inning. Overn stepped in the lefty batter’s box against right-hander Ashton Crowther as Jayden Davis (Vanderbilt) waited on first base. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, Overn clocked a high curveball deep to right-center field. Davis scored with ease. Overn confidently slid head first into third base.

“He just straight up hung that curveball in the top of the zone,” Overn revealed postgame. “I just put a good swing on it.”

His bat remained unchanged. Though, the Anglers’ outcome dramatically changed from it.

Overn’s game-tying triple kick-started Chatham’s (6-8, East) comeback 2-1 victory over Brewster (5-9, East). A strong start from Karson Ligon (Mississippi State) along with efficiency in the bullpen and a go-ahead eighth-inning double by Ashton Larson (LSU) gave the A’s the ingredients to win. Yet they found no offensive rhythm for most of the game.

Enter Overn. Just like he has all summer, he came through when his squad needed it the most — delivering a 2-for-4 performance with stout defense and late heroics. He broke Chatham’s scoreless drought, continued his stellar season and played a major role in ending the Anglers’ three-game losing skid.

“The fact that he’s walking in the box with a plan, he’s showing up in really good moments and doing what he’s supposed to do is huge for us,” Chatham manager Jeremy “Sheets” Sheetinger said of Overn.

Overn’s face had a look of giddiness to it when he mentioned what he strives to be: a spark. He feels like that should be his job. He recognizes his athleticism as a sure-gloved center fielder paired with his value on the basepaths. Now, though, his bat is Chatham’s spark plug.

“I feel like I’ve been using it more with my swing, and I love that,” Overn said. “It’s a little bit of a change, but hopefully I can just keep it rolling.”

The USC product is coming off a sophomore season that he doesn’t believe was ideal. His batting average dipped from .314 to .270 from his first year to the next. His slugging and OBP each decreased by at least 50 points. He went from setting the Trojans’ single-season triples record of 14 to hitting five.

Austin Overn rounds first base on his game-tying triple in the top of the seventh inning in Chatham's 2-1 win over Brewster / Photograph by Ella Tovey

Overn said he lost some comfort in his swing at USC. He wanted to return himself to form once he arrived in Chatham for the CCBL season. The tendency to pop up soft fly balls to left field contributed to the sophomore slump, he said, and he wasn’t ahead enough of opposing pitchers’ velocity. He worked on stamping his right foot down in time on his stride and to stay on top of the ball. Adding on an aggressive mindset was the final step to success.

“The approach is to stay with the fastball,” Overn said, “try to work middle away and try to keep grooving from there.”

Everything's falling into place for Overn this summer. He leads Chatham in hits (19), RBIs (nine), batting average (.373), slugging percentage (.647) and OPS (1.065) — all ranking among the best totals in the CCBL, too.

Sheetinger established him early as the A’s go-to lead-off man. His ability to induce runs off stolen bases and errant throws along with trotting in off wild pitches make him a player Chatham needs to have running the bags. He’s also been the player Chatham’s counted on to have big days at the plate when its offense is struggling.

A five-RBI performance with a three-run homer against Falmouth on June 22 comes to mind. Three hits, including a triple, versus Harwich two days later stands out as well. Yet, he’d never helped boost his squad to a win despite an offensive struggle — until Tuesday.

Down 1-0 in the seventh inning to the Whitecaps, Overn saw red on a hanging curveball and tattooed it over the heads of Brewster center fielder DeAmez Ross and right fielder Nick Dumesnil.

“I was still sitting fastball,” Overn said. “But I knew in the back of my mind that a curveball was for sure going to come.”

The ball sifted through the air and one-hopped the outfield wall. Overn rounded second and didn’t hesitate to take third, barreling to the bag and sliding safely. Dog barks erupted in Chatham’s dugout as Overn stood up. From there, his spark lit a fire.

Larson belted an RBI double to left field in the eighth inning to give the Anglers a 2-1 advantage — their first of the day. Then, a scoreless three-inning relief outing from Brian Zeldin (Georgia) set up Titan Hayes (Austin Peay) for a long save opportunity in the eighth.

Hayes vomited on the mound amid his first at-bat as matters took a strange, and unsanitary, turn. He said on the Anglers Extra Postgame Show that he drank one too many C4 Energy’s before the game. After Chatham teammates and pitching coach Eric Beattie met with him, they all left unable to contain the smiles on their faces and Hayes stayed in.

He went on to finish a 1.2-inning save, capping off the comeback that Overn started.

Overn’s eligible for the Major League Baseball Draft from July 14-16. His Anglers’ career may be approaching a close. But he lives in the moment. And for now, he wants to make sure he doesn’t swing that pink and blue bat for quite some time.

“I hope not,” Overn said laughing on the thought of his manilla bat shattering. “I need this thing to stay intact.”