CHATHAM ─ Mother Nature certainly worked hard to keep the Chatham Anglers from getting their 2017 season started at home, but once it did the A's battled to a pair of victories in their double header against Wareham.
It took until Sunday for the Anglers to see game play at Veterans Field after their official home opener against Cotuit on Friday was rained out after half an inning. Returning center fielder DJ Artis had just reached first base when the skies opened, sending players scrambling to put the tarps out before taking cover in the dugout. A half hour later the game was officially called.
The A's were slated to travel to Brewster on Saturday, but field conditions in the wake of more rains overnight also canceled that outing, leaving fans with sights set on Sunday. Thankfully, though the fog continued rolling in throughout both games, the Anglers played through 14 innings en route to back-to-back wins of 8-3 and 6-1 against the Gatemen.
In both cases, a big day was had by Chatham's Nick Patten, who swung into a pair of two-run homers, one in each game, to give the Anglers a big boost. Patten's first ball went over the fence in the fifth inning of game one not long after Wareham's Willie MacIver had tied the game at 3-3 with a three-run bomb.
With two outs already on the board, Chatham's Jake Olson stepped to the plate and hit a single to get on base, coming home when Patten homered over the center field fence to once again give the A's the lead.
Chatham struck first in the outing when Artis scored on a sacrifice fly from Olson for a 1-0 edge. Patten then opened his day with a double, with Josh Shaw coming home on Fabian Pena's sac fly. Patten then made it 3-0 when he raced in on a single from Jimmy Titus before Austin Edens drew the final out of the inning.
From there the game was scoreless until the aforementioned fifth, after which the Anglers held a 5-3 lead as the end of the first game neared. Then, in the sixth, Edens landed on first after being hit by a pitch, with Mason Koppens stepping in to pinch run, advancing to second on a single from Jake Palomaki.
A fly ball from Bobby Brennan drew the first out, but a single to right from Artis brought in Koppens for the sixth run, with Palomaki making it 7-3 on a single from Shaw. Two batters later Patten capped off the scoring with a sac fly that brought in Artis.
Meanwhile on the mound Chatham employed a trio of hurlers, with Jacob Stevens starting things off, going four innings with four hits and three strikeouts before reliever Ryan Hedrick stepped in, earning the win with three hits, three runs and one strikeout. Closer Josiah Gray came in for the game's final inning, fanning two and forcing a fly out to end game one.
At bat Shaw went 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI, while Patten went 2-for-3 with two runs and three RBIs. Artis went 1-for-3 with two runs and an RBI, Olson went 1-for-3 with a run and an RBI, and Palomaki 2-for-2 with a run. Jimmy Titus went 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Fabian Pena also had one RBI.
Game two saw the fog threaten to get even heavier, but the sea breeze kept the mist at bay enough to allow for all seven innings, with Chatham again earning the win, this time with pitcher John Signore snagging the W. Signore lasted five innings on the mound, allowing just two hits and one run while striking out five. Nick Silva closed the game, allowing one hit in two innings with two strikeouts.
After Signore quickly retired the first three Wareham batters, the Anglers went to work at the bottom of the first pushing across three runs, two of which came on Patten's second bomb of the day, giving the home team a 3-0 lead at the start.
Antonio Ralat brought in run No. 4 in the second on a single from Koppens, with Koppens adding the fifth run in the fifth when he raced home on a wild pitch. Ralat scored again in the bottom of the sixth, this time on a single from Artis.
Though Wareham pushed a run across the plate in the fourth, it was their only score in the game thanks to solid play from the Anglers.
“I like the way we're playing, the way the kids are responding,” said Chatham Coach John Schiffner, who added that while the roster still includes a number of temporary players, there is good chemistry among the teammates. “We're getting some real quality time from our temps.”
In the second game, Ralat went 2-for-3 with two runs, while Koppens went 2-for-2 with a run and an RBI. Olson went 2-for-3 with a run and Patten went 2-for-2 with a run and two RBIs, with Palomaki adding a run.
“Nick Patten's two home runs were pretty impressive,” said Schiffner, who was also pleased with the relief efforts of Gray in the first game and Signore's performance in the second.
Schiffner felt that both games were team wins.
“There were a lot of guys that contributed,” he said. “It was a good overall effort. We got a lot of good things out of a lot of people.”
The longtime head coach, the winningest in the Cape League, said he was thrilled to be back for the 2017 season.
“It's another Cape League season,” he said. “I've always felt from day one that I'm blessed to do this. It's always fun to work with the kids.”
Along with the wins, Anglers fans and host families are celebrating the recent MLB draft in which 2016 alum JB Bukauskas was selected in the first round (No. 15) by the Houston Astros. During the 2016 season Bukauskas pitched nearly 10 innings across two starts, finishing with a 3.72 ERA and 17 strikeouts with only two walks.
Next up for the Anglers is a trip to Eldredge Park tonight (June 22) to face the Orleans Firebirds before the team returns home to host the Harwich Mariners tomorrow night, both games with 7 p.m. starts.