CHATHAM ─ What do you do when your team is fighting for a spot in the playoffs and you're facing the top team in the league? If you're the Chatham Anglers, you come out swinging, and if you're pitcher Caleb Gilbert, you give it everything you've got en route to an impressive 9-3 victory against the Falmouth Commodores that puts you that much closer to the post-season.
At the start of Monday night's game the Anglers needed the Brewster Whitecaps to lose (which they did), and to win in their own home game against the Commodores in order to pull within one point of that last playoff spot in the East Division.
Naysayers had their doubts silenced once the game got rolling. Not only did Gilbert put forth one heck of a performance on the mound, but his team also backed him up with a mighty show at bat.
After the outing opened with a Falmouth home run from JJ Matijevic, Chatham fans were understandably nervous, especially when opposing pitcher Brady Puckett retired the Angler side, allowing just one walk in the opening frame.
Then came the second inning and a turn of the tide for the A's. Jeremy Vasquez led off with a single to center before reaching third on a double hit by Donovan Casey. Though Kyle Adams drew the first out during his at bat, his shot was enough to bring home Vasquez for the tying run.
Next across was Casey, who scored on a wild pitch during John Aiello's at bat, with Aiello ultimately swinging into a single before an error put him on third. Hunter Lee then reached on a walk before Jake Palomaki drew the second out. Another wild pitch brought in Aiello for another Chatham run before the inning ended on a strikeout, with the Anglers now leading 3-1.
The Commodores narrowed the score in the third when Ryan Chandler scored on a Chatham error, but the fired-up Anglers remained undaunted, cheering as Vasquez swung into a two-run homer that also brought in DJ Artis, putting the A's up 5-2.
After a scoreless fourth, Chatham added two more runs to its tally, the first when Artis came home on a wild pitch, and the second when Gunnar Troutwine capitalized on a passed ball. Another two runs in the sixth from Hunter Lee and Palomaki gave the Anglers a commanding lead, which, in spite of an added Falmouth run in the ninth, proved unshakable.
At bat, Artis and Vasquez shined, with Artis going 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, while Vasquez went 2-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs. Casey went 1-for-4 with a run, as did Aiello, while Adams went 1-for-3 with an RBI, and Troutwine 1-for-5 with a run and an RBI.
On the mound, Gilbert pitched seven innings in which he allowed three hits and two runs, with seven strikeouts before giving way to reliever Connor Moore, who pitched one inning with no hits and no runs, with closer Michael McCormick allowing one hit and one run with one strikeout in his one inning.
At press time Chatham was set to host the Orleans Firebirds Tuesday, with their final regular season game slated for Wednesday at Orleans (7 p.m. start). Should Chatham win and Brewster fall, Chatham has a chance to make the playoffs. Follow Kat Szmit on Twitter @ChroniKat for updates.