CHATHAM – The brand new scoreboard at Veterans Field has been impressing fans during the first week of the Cape Cod Baseball League, and it looked even better on Friday night when the Chatham Anglers defeated the Harwich Mariners 5-0 in the season's first meeting of the two teams.
The home team Anglers scattered five runs across four innings in the outing, including a two-run homer from Paxton Wallace in the bottom of the fourth.
The scoring started in the third when the Anglers broke a scoreless deadlock on a hit from Colin Hall that brought in Anthony Vilar for the game's first run. Vilar had previously reached on a walk, advancing to second on a wild pitch before blazing home on Hall's single before Hall was caught stealing, bringing an end to the inning.
The fourth kicked off with the Mariners eager to even the score, holding out hope when a single to center put Chris Galland on base. Unfortunately for the visiting Harwich team, no runs materialized. Instead, the next batter up, Bobby Seymour, struck out swinging before a double play following Niko Kavadas's at-bat ended that half of the inning.
With two outs on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth, Chatham's Charlie Welch stepped up to the plate and, with the count at three balls and two strikes, hit a nice single to center to land on first. Then came Wallace, who connected with the incoming pitch after a swinging strike, sending it over the outfield fence to give the Anglers a 3-0 lead.
Harwich took another crack at finding their way to the scoreboard in the top of the fifth, but with no luck. After Joey Wiemer, Jr., reached on a walk, teammate Michael Ludowig struck out. Christian Fedko drew the next out after Wiemer was able to snag second through a savvy steal, racing to third while Chatham shortstop Ben Ramirez threw to first before Fedko reached the bag. Next up was Jackson Greer, who made it to first on a walk, but was tagged out when Dan Harris IV swung into a fielder's choice.
An error by Harwich shortstop Harris let Vilar reach first at the bottom of the fifth, which was quickly followed by Vincenzo Bologna's strikeout. A walk then put Kaden Polcovich on first, with Vilar moving to second and prompting a pitching change by the Mariners as Connor Yoder stepped in for Buddy Hayward.
Another fielder's choice, this time by Hall, put Vilar on third and Hall on first, with Harwich fans hoping Yoder would end the inning before Vilar made it home. The fans were disappointed when a wild pitch paved the way for Vilar to score, bringing Chatham's tally to 4-0 before Ramirez drew the inning's last out.
The sixth saw Harwich's Galland make it to first on a walk but Seymour, next in line, joined the inning's leadoff batter Cam Thompson in striking out. Another walk let Kavadas reach first, but a solid throw to first by Chatham third baseman Wallace brought the top of the inning to a close. Thankfully for Harwich, the Mariner bullpen silenced all Angler bats in the bottom of the sixth.
The Anglers subbed in a few positions at the top of the seventh, with Keaton Rice taking over for Charlie Welch as catcher, while Jorge Arenas took over third and Dane Acker stepped in to relieve Luke Barnicki on the mound.
The changes seemed to work as only one hit snuck through in the half-inning, with the Mariners still looking for that elusive run. A Harwich pitching change from Yoder to Devin Dunn seemed to help in the bottom of the sixth as the Anglers went scoreless, but an error by Harwich second baseman Fedko let in Jamal O'Guinn II for Chatham's final run of the game.
“We couldn't come up with a big hit and they took advantage of a couple of errors we made,” said Harwich manager Steve Englert. “But we're getting there. We're swinging a little better than we have been and are getting better each time we get out there, so hopefully in a couple more games we'll get everything going.”
Englert noted that between the college world series and Team USA, he's still awaiting the arrival of roughly 18 new players.
“We've just got to keep things at .500 and make a surge,” he said, adding that he thought the team's starting pitcher, Buddy Hayward, did a solid job, as added that his team's catching has been “tremendous.”
After falling to the Cotuit Kettleers on Saturday night, the Mariners swept a double header against Falmouth on Sunday, winning the first game 1-0 and the second 7-1.
With regard to Chatham, manager Tom Holliday said his team's pitching has been key.
“We're pitching pretty good,” he said. “We've just completed our cycle of starters. All in all it's good.”
Holliday said two more pitchers were due to arrive during the weekend, with more coming after stints in the world series.
“To win three out of your first four in this league and get those points early, that's important,” Holliday said. “I know everybody's playing with guys that aren't here yet, but I'd rather win those games. Last year we lost those games and then we had to get hot and win in a streak.”
Holliday gave kudos to Ramirez at shortstop, Vilar at second, and O'Guinn at first. The team is playing good ground ball defense, he said. “Our field is soft so they had to make a lot of plays coming to the ball.”
A plan going forward is to keep utilizing players in rotation to dispel the feeling of it being a long summer filled with too much baseball.
“We've got to make sure we don't let that set in,” Holliday said. “I'm going to play everybody so they don't get worn out.”
Chatham kept up its winning ways on Saturday night, defeating the Y-D Red Sox 7-3, but were swept by the Wareham Gatemen in double header action Sunday 5-0 in Game 1 and 8-5 in Game 2. Next up for the Anglers is a trip to Brewster today (June 20) for a 5 p.m. game, followed by a home game tomorrow night, also against the Whitecaps at 7 p.m. at Veterans Field. On Saturday night at 7 p.m. the A's host the Y-D Red Sox, and on Sunday compete in another double header, this time against Bourne, with the first game starting at 4:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Mariners will travel to Wareham tonight for a 6:45 p.m. game before hosting Wareham tomorrow night at 6:30 at Whitehouse Field. On Saturday the Mariners host Cotuit beginning at 5:30 p.m., and on Sunday play a double header at Hyannis, with the first game set for 3 p.m.