After a season of struggle, the Chatham Anglers came up with just enough runs and some stellar pitching to stun the Harwich Mariners, with the Anglers winning two of the three first round games to advance in the Cape League playoffs, as the Mariners found their 2016 season suddenly over.
In spite of a 17-26 regular season record, the Anglers somehow mustered a 2-1 victory against the Orleans Firebirds on Aug. 2, while the Mariners defeated the Brewster Whitecaps, giving the Anglers a potential spot in the post-season. That spot was clinched when Brewster fell for a second time to Harwich on Aug. 3, setting up a Round One battle between the local rivals.
The teams met for the first time in the post-season on Friday, with Harwich fans certain their East Division Champion team would handily dispatch the Anglers and move on to the next round of tournament action. Instead, the Mariners found themselves stymied in Chatham's 3-1 win by hurlers Simon Mathews and Garrett Whitlock, who combined forces for 12 strikeouts, 11 of which belonged solely to Mathews and, according to statistics, were the most for a CCBL pitcher this season.
Mathews manned the pitcher's mound for eight full innings, allowing just five hits and no runs to earn the win, before Whitlock stepped in for the save, allowing just two hits and one run before closing the door on the game.
Meanwhile, the Anglers got the scoring started in the opening inning when Jake Palomaki came home on a passed ball to put Chatham ahead 1-0 at the top of the first. Their next run came in the fifth when John Aiello reached on a single before advancing to second on an error by Harwich pitcher Hunter Williams, coming home on a single to left from Palomaki to give the A's a 2-0 edge at the midpoint. A single from Gunnar Troutwine in the eighth brought in Mason Koppens for Chatham's third run.
With Mariner players in the dugout wearing their rally caps, all eyes were on Joe Dunand in the ninth in hopes of a comeback for Harwich. While Dunand delivered, batting into a double and scoring on another double from Pavin Smith, Whitlock kept his focus and soon retired the side, ending the game.
The following night found the teams at Veterans Field in Chatham, where the Mariners roared back from the previous night's loss to make one heck of a statement, defeating the Anglers 13-1 in a game that included a second-inning grand slam and a run for every hit Harwich had.
After a 1-2-3 first for both teams, Harwich's Nick Feight reached on a walk, moving to second on a single to left from Johnny Adams. Feight then scored the first run of the game on a single from Austin Filiere, with a walk from Cal Raleigh loading the bases. Next up was Nick Dalesandro, who, on his first pitch, swung into an impressive grand slam that scored Adams, Filiere, and Raleigh to put Harwich ahead 5-0 at the top of the second.
The Mariners added another run in the next inning when Dunand came in on a sac fly from Adams while the Anglers remained scoreless and at the mercy of Harwich pitcher BJ Myers, who went eight innings with four strikeouts, eight hits, and just one run.
Three innings passed without a score from either side, bringing around the seventh, which led off with Ernie Clement reaching on a single to left. Dunand also singled to left, while Clement made it to third just in time for Smith to swing into a single of his own, which became an RBI when Clement made it home. A double from Feight added another run when Dunand crossed the plate, with Adams bringing in Smith for the Mariners' ninth run of the night.
The eighth inning saw four more runs from Harwich, three when Adams doubled to center and brought around Max Burt, Dunand, and Anthony Critelli, and the final run when Adams raced home on a Cam Simmons single.
Chatham's lone run came at the bottom of the eighth when DJ Artis scored Orlando Garcia, but any hopes of a rally were silenced in the ninth when Harwich closer Tommy DeJuneas swiftly retired the side.
After the previous night's blowout, hopes were high in Harwich heading into Game three at Whitehouse Field that the Mariners would again prevail, but it was not to be as the Anglers once again shocked the Harwich hosts with a 3-1 win that brought the Mariners season to a heartbreaking end, while Chatham set its sights on the East finals against the Y-D Red Sox (see adjoining story).
While the Mariner bullpen certainly had the prowess, and the strikeouts (11 total), the Harwich offense had a tough time conjuring up runs, save for an Austin Filiere homer in the third.
The Anglers, however, opened the game with two runs, the first when Mason Koppens came home on a double from Jeremy Vasquez, with Vasquez scoring next on a single from Stuart Fairchild to give the A's a 2-0 edge at the top of the first. Chatham's third run came at the top of the second when John Aiello swung into a home run of his own before Harwich starting pitcher Packy Naughton retired the side.
After Filiere's bomb, the game went scoreless, with Naughton throwing into the sixth, recording five strikeouts, while allowing six hits and three runs before Teddy Rodliff stepped in briefly, giving way to closer Zach Schellenger, who pitched three innings with six strikeouts, no hits, and no runs.
Parker Rigler had the start and the win for Chatham, pitching six innings with four strikeouts, four hits and one run, with Isaac Mattson stepping in for just shy of two innings in which he fanned four and allowed one hit with no runs. Moises Ceja earned the save for the A's, striking out Nick Feight, and forcing Johnny Adams to fly out. Singles from Filiere and Dalesandro gave Harwich fans renewed hope, but a fly out to right from pinch hitter Cal Raleigh ended the game, and the Mariners' 2016 season.
“This is always the hardest day of the summer,” said Harwich head coach Steve Englert. “All of a sudden it's just over. There's no easing into it. You can take losing, but when you don't have any more days with these kids... That's what stinks about this league. You only get to coach them for one summer.”
As the Anglers boarded the bus back to Chatham, coaches and players from the Harwich Mariners gathered on the field for emotional goodbyes.
“Everybody here had such a great mentality,” said third baseman Joe Dunand. “It was just so positive.”
Second baseman Ernie Clement was named the League's MVP for the 2016 season, an honor he said could have gone to any one of his teammates.
“I was pretty surprised, because everybody on our team just contributed so much,” he said. “It could have been any one of our pitchers, any one of our position players.”
Clement gave a nod to Joe Dunand, as well as Pavin Smith, in regards.
“We call him 'Joe Smooth,'” Clement said. “He's just an unbelievable player. And Pavin Smith, my guy at Virginia, I can't say enough about him.”
“I'll just forever be grateful for everything the Harwich Mariners organization has done for me, and what all the coaches have done for me,” said Harwich shortstop Johnny Adams. “I couldn't have asked for a better spot to play summer ball.”
Look for a special Harwich wrap-up in the Aug. 18 edition, including comments, photos, awards, and more.