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Chatham erupts for season-high run total, defeats Orleans 12-1

by Zak Wolf
Wednesday, July 03, 2024

Chatham erupts for season-high run total, defeats Orleans 12-1
By the ninth inning of Chatham’s matchup with Orleans, the game had long been decided. The Anglers sat with a comfortable 10-1 lead. They already produced their best offensive performance in weeks while holding the Firebirds to just one hit.

That didn’t mean there wasn’t time for more theatrics.

With the sizable advantage, Chatham’s bullpen migrated to the dugout. It intensified what’s already a loud and rambunctious bunch. Aiva Arquette (Washington) stood in the batter's box facing Orleans pitcher Luke Jackson. Arquette’s teammates offered words of support behind him along the third-base line.

Home plate umpire Mickey Garcia seemed to think otherwise. Amid Arquette’s at-bat, Garcia paused the game to threaten Chatham’s dugout with a warning — seemingly unhappy with some of their comments. That only caused the volume to increase as play resumed.

Arquette drew a walk, placing Luke Cantwell (Pittsburgh) at the dish. But two pitches in, Garcia stopped the game again. He issued an official warning to Chatham manager Jeremy “Sheets” Sheetinger, while imploring the A’s to not jeer Jackson.

The barking and wild battlecries once again resumed, only growing louder. They reached their climax as Cantwell uncorked a 2-1 pitch way over the right field fence. Cantwell stood for a couple seconds, admiring his blast while euphoria erupted among his teammates behind him.

“That was beautiful. Baseball is a romantic game,” Cantwell said of his home run on the Anglers Extra Postgame Show.

Cantwell’s home run might not have changed the outcome of Chatham’s (7-8, East) 12-1 drubbing of Orleans (4-11, East), yet it signified something deeper. The energy deep into a ninth-inning blowout was something unique only to Chatham. The Anglers pride themselves in being the most passionate team in the Cape Cod Baseball League. They don’t shy away from it. And it was on full display during the ninth inning saga.

Whereas other coaches might be hesitant to let their guys loose — especially in a blowout — Sheetinger encourages it.

“I want our guys to lead the league in having fun,” Sheetinger said with a smile on his face postgame. “For them to show up and kind of punch through that moment kind of signified to us, man we're onto something.”

In terms of the warning, Cantwell pointed to Kyle Lodise (Georgia Tech) and Titan Hayes (Austin Peay) as the main culprits. Lodise admitted that initially, he might’ve let out a chant as Jackson released the ball. The second time, Lodise refused to admit his guilt.

Following the debacle, the dugout made sure to direct everything in a positive nature toward Cantwell. Lodise joked that Cantwell was taken aback by the ordeal. Often the most active voice in the dugout, Lodise admitted it was weird to see Cantwell rattled.

“Seeing him kind of step out and give a little side face like that was different for him. But you know, of course he punctuates on a big moment like that,” Lodise said.

It didn’t take Cantwell long to lock back in. He ripped the ball deep into the night sky for his first home run of the summer. Sheetinger hugged Cantwell postgame as if to say thanks.

“You gotta show up in that spot … we can have your back with energy but you gotta show up, put a barrel on the ball to signify that that's real,” Sheetinger said.

Cantwell’s home run was the cherry on top of Chatham’s best offensive performance of the season. The Anglers scored their most runs since their 11-1 Opening Day win over Wareham, potentially breaking out of an extensive slump.

 
Austin Overn (USC) celebrates on third base in Chatham's 11-run win over Orleans on July 3 / Photograph by Ella Tovey
 
In the Anglers’ past seven games, they’d only produced multiple runs in an inning twice. The last time Chatham scored at least three runs was a five-inning fog-out victory over Hyannis on June 26. That changed Wednesday.

The party started early as Chatahm loaded the bases in the first inning. Matt Ager walked two batters and Ashton Larson’s (LSU) single put ducks on the pond. Cantwell walked with two outs, bringing home the first run of the game.

Lodise quickly blew open the game with a bases clearing double the ensuing at-bat. He blasted an elevated fastball to right center field which Landon Moran and Colin Tuft couldn't corral. Lodise’s double put the A’s in front 4-0 within a flash.

“For me personally, these last few games, I haven't had what I've wanted at the plate and I think that a lot of it is just being too passive. I wanted to get a pitch early and just the inning,” Lodise said of his three-RBI double.

Chatham’s early offense gave starter Griffin Herring (LSU) a cushion, though he ran into trouble during the first inning.

Two straight walks and a passed ball to Roch Cholowsky made it second and third with one out. Cholowsky worked a full count as Herring fired a slider on the inside corner. Cholowsky threw his bat, feeling it was ball four, instead Garcia rang him up.

Herring retired the next nine batters, inducing soft contact from every Orleans batter he faced. The only blemish on his outing came in the fifth inning. Herring left a ball over the plate to Daniel Bucciero, who pummeled the ball over the left-field fence. Herring did bounce back with three consecutive outs, exiting with Chatham leading by three.

The Anglers offense soon came alive again, scoring six runs across the next two frames. Arquette’s bloop single restored Chatham’s four-run advantage in the sixth. Soon after, Ike Irish's (Auburn) two-run home run — his first of the season — highlighted a five-run seventh as Chatham blew things open.

“In this league, you have to find innings that are going to fall into your favor. And when that happens, you really have to show up and put a great at-bat together,” Sheetinger said.

The Anglers sailed smoothly into the ninth inning. But there was one more moment yet to be had and Cantwell pounced. It didn’t matter that the game had been long over.

It was a moment of chaos that the Anglers created themselves. Yet they wouldn’t have it any other way. That’s just their brand of baseball.

“We play relaxed, energetic, competitive baseball. Just showing up at the ballpark every day and having a smile on your face has just been the key to our success,” Cantwell said.