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Anglers’ bats muted in 8-2 loss at Wareham

by Cooper Andrews
Tuesday, July 09, 2024

Anglers’ bats muted in 8-2 loss at Wareham
It appeared to be a routine fly ball. Instead, it inconspicuously sealed Chatham’s fate.

Wareham first baseman Sam White cut at a 1-0 fastball from Brian Zeldin (Georgia) with the bases loaded in the third inning. The Anglers were down 2-0 at the time. Zeldin already induced one out. So a sacrifice fly was a manageable, almost encouraged, outcome.

Right fielder Ashton Larson (LSU) pivoted left and trotted near the wall, looking to snare the put out. Most thought he would. Fans didn’t react. Coaches didn’t either. Brendan Summerhill was already locked onto third base preparing to dash home. Yet all he had to do was jog. White’s 92-MPH fly ball barely drooped over the fence and into Chatham’s bullpen.

“We missed a spot, that’s what happens,” A’s manager Jeremy “Sheets” Sheetinger said postgame. “This league is full of really good hitters, and you really have to pinpoint where you want to go with your pitches.”

The grand slam put the Anglers behind 6-0. Unlike they did two days prior against Harwich, the A’s couldn’t dig deep for a magical comeback.

Chatham (10-10, East) lost on the road to West Division standings leader Wareham (14-5-1, West) 8-2. The Anglers’ offense went cold after they were unstoppable late in their previous contest. Their inactivity at the plate led the Gatemen to cruise the rest of the way following White’s momentum-shifting grand slam. Chatham plated two runs in the ninth, but it wasn’t nearly enough.

The A’s were coming off their best moment of the season. They stormed back from being down by as much as seven at home against Harwich Sunday, dropping six runs across the eighth and ninth innings to send the game into an extra inning tied 11-11.

Jubilation flooded a sparsely populated Veterans Field to end the almost five-hour long affair. In the bottom of the 10th, Campbell Smithwick (Ole Miss) punched a sacrifice fly into deep right field to clinch a walk-off 13-12 win. He was mobbed by Chatham teammates and coaches at first base as the celebration migrated to the outfield.

Tuesday’s contest commenced similarly — with the Anglers’ offense slow out of the gate. The end result wasn’t nearly as euphoric, though.

“It never carries over,” Sheetinger said. “The way the game’s played is that momentum is only as good as the next day’s starter. We got a new team, a new arena, on the road, so all those factors eliminate momentum in our sport.”

Campbell Smithwick sits in Chatham's visiting dugout before going out to catch amid the Anglers' 8-2 loss at Wareham / Photograph by Ella Tovey 

Chatham’s bats made consistent connections with the ball, though it reaped little results. The Anglers struck out seven times, but the issue stemmed from Wareham’s Darin Horn and Patrick Galle’s ability to induce soft contact and limit throngs of baserunners.

Only Larson reached base via single in the top of the first inning against Horn, the Gatemen’s starter. On the other hand, Zeldin weathered some trouble in his first start of the summer.

The righty faced runners on the corners with one out in the bottom of the first. He initially battled back, forcing a weak pop-out to third baseman Eli Paton (Grand Canyon). Location then proved to be an issue. He threw a wild pitch as Wareham’s Bobby Boser easily crossed home. Then, an RBI single from White made it 2-0 Gatemen through one frame.

Zeldin unloaded for a scintillating second inning. He K’d the Gatemen’s 7-9 hitters all looking at strike three. Yet the A’s continued to be held scoreless through the third inning, where Zeldin got into a bases-loaded jam with no outs. He garnered another looking strikeout on Jace Rinehart, which brought White to the dish.

Wareham’s first baseman showed why the Gatemen lead the CCBL with a .441 slugging percentage. White pulled a high fly ball over the right-field fence for an emphatic grand slam. The shot increased White’s RBI total to five.

Before they could make any offensive in-roads, the Anglers trailed 6-0.

Zeldin stalled any further damage. He ended his start with 4.2 innings pitched, six strikeouts but let in six earned runs. Keeping the Gatemen quiet after the grand slam didn’t wake up the Anglers, though.

Chatham still lacked success despite Wareham swapping Horn for Galle amid the fourth inning. The A’s went down in order in both the fourth and fifth. Then in the sixth, against the Gatemen’s third pitcher Matthew Maloney, only Overn slapped a single before Larson, Ike Irish (Auburn) and John Bay (Austin Peay) were promptly retired.

Through six innings, the only frame in which the Anglers had multiple baserunners was the second. Meanwhile, Antonio Jimenez uncorked a solo homer off Malachi Witherspoon (Oklahoma) that sailed over Spillane Field’s left-field bullpen. An errant throw from Paton allowed another run to score in the inning, which made it 8-0 Wareham.

“There’s a reason they’re first in the West,” Sheetinger said of the Gatement. “They’re a really good team up and down the lineup.”

It was a similar deficit to what Chatham faced 48 hours prior. The Anglers had to leave no doubt in their response in order to embark on another improbable comeback.

Yet, Chatham garnered just two baserunners across the seventh and eighth innings. Bay roped an RBI double and Cantwell poked a one-run single in the ninth. By that point, however, it would have taken a miracle even greater than what the Anglers accomplished Sunday.

Naturally, Paton popped out and a Jayden Davis (Vanderbilt) 6-3 groundout cemented Chatham’s defeat.

“They punched us early,” Sheetinger said, “and we had to play catch-up for the rest of the game.”