HARWICH – The Harwich Mariners wanted to defeat the Chatham Anglers just one time this summer, and after taking a commanding lead in Game 2 of the opening round of the Cape League's East Division playoffs, seemed to be headed in that direction. But a blown lead and a solid Chatham bullpen led the A's to an 8-6 victory, just one night after winning Game 1 with an 8-3 final score.
After a scoreless first seemed to set the tone for the Aug. 6 outing at Whitehouse Field, the Mariners made it clear they had come to compete, pushing across five runs in a big second inning. The inning's leadoff batter Logan Driscoll opened with a single, moving to second when Steven Passatempo was hit by a pitch to land on base.
With two men on and no outs, Nate Eikhoff swung into a single to bring home Driscoll for the first run of the game, with Passatempo coming home on a wild pitch to put Harwich ahead 2-0. A single from Tanner Morris allowed Eikhoff to score before Aaron Schunk hit a double to bring in Morris and Danny Casals, who had reached on a single.
With the home team now leading 5-0, fans were excited for the possibility of a win, but the determined Anglers went to work at the top of the third, narrowing the Mariners' lead to 5-3. John Rave kicked things off with a single to right, with teammate Blake Sabol following suit to put two men on with no outs. Next up was Spencer Torkelson with a single to bring home Rave before Michael Busch drew the first out after Harwich pitcher Caleb Freeman stepped in for Danny Poidomani on the mound.
A walk from Tristin English loaded the bases and had Harwich fans hoping for a double play to end the inning, but a single from Colin Simpson brought around Sabol and a speedy Torkelson before the inning ended with outs against Simpson and Greg Jones.
Harwich headed into the fourth still on top with a two-run lead, but that quickly evaporated behind four more Chatham runs to give the Anglers a 7-5 lead. With two outs on the scoreboard, English swung into a single to center that saw Sabol and Rave blaze around the bases toward home, tying the game briefly at 5-5. A double from Simpson broke the tie by bringing in Torkelson and English and putting Chatham on top.
While the Mariners were able to push across another run in the sixth when Driscoll came home on a single from Casals, they weren't able to overcome Chatham's lead, which capped off at 8-6 in the seventh when Simpson blazed home on an error by Harwich first baseman Andre Lipcius.
Both teams were held scoreless for the game's remainder thanks to solid work from each bullpen, but when the last out was recorded, Harwich's 2018 season drew to a close.
The previous night's playoff game continued the trend set during the regular season between the two teams, with Chatham playing to an 8-3 win at home. The A's scattered runs throughout various innings, beginning with the second when a home run from Kyle McCann brought in Greg Jones to put the Anglers up 2-1.
A double from Rave in the third brought in Michael Busch, with Torkelson coming in on a bases-loaded, hit-by-pitch scenario. A homer from Sabol at the bottom of the fourth made it 5-1, with Busch's homer in the sixth boosting Chatham's lead to 6-2. A Sabol single brought in Ashton McGee in the seventh, with Busch scoring in the eighth on a wild pitch.
Tanner Morris was the first to come home for Harwich in the outing, scoring on a single from Alex Tappen in the opening frame, only to have the Mariners bats fall flat until the sixth when Ben Norman came in on a balk. Harwich's final run came in the seventh when Eikhoff scored on a single from Casals.
Chatham will now face the Brewster Whitecaps, who stunned the League-leading Y-D Red Sox by winning both opening round games, the first 5-4 and the second 12-2, with the game date pending the outcome of the Hyannis-Falmouth playoff game set to occur at press time Aug. 7.
“I try to stay focused on this game and this series,” said Chatham head coach Tom Holliday. “I've been telling this ball club for about a month that when they play good baseball, they're really hard to beat. They're a really good team.”
What Holliday would like to see going forward is more defensive strength from his team.
“Defensively we leave a lot to be desired,” he said. “But we can hit. We can score runs, and our bats aren't really worn down right now.”
Holliday dubbed Brewster a “mentally tough” team that his Anglers will have to play “neck and neck with.”
For Mariners head coach Steve Englert, the loss brought to an end his 17th year with the team.
“We didn't leave any bullets in the gun,” he said of his team's efforts. “They competed down the stretch and did a good job. We just came up a little short, that's all.”
Englert gave high praise for the players who stuck it out through the entire season.
“They came to play every single day,” he said. “I enjoyed that group of guys. They played hard all summer.”
The head coach's wish was that his players had an enjoyable summer as part of the Harwich ball club, and improved their game.
“All those kids got better,” he said. “That's the number one goal of the summer and they did that.”
Catcher Logan Driscoll said his time with the Mariners improved his game play and enriched his life.
“Coming up here I knew that coming from a smaller school I'd have my hands full, but the coaches up here helped me up my game behind the plate more than any coach ever has,” Driscoll said. “I'm extremely grateful for him and for the coaches who have given me this opportunity. Pushing through has helped me grow as a player a lot.”
Driscoll also appreciated the bond he had with his teammates.
“I've never seen a summer ball team mesh the way we did,” he said. “I'm taking away friendships that will last forever.”
Teammate Andre Lipcius, who was given the League's Manny Robello 10th Player Award in a special pre-game ceremony, agreed.
“The experiences with all the guys, being at the field every day,” he said. “This group of guys was awesome.”
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