ORLEANS – After trading the top spot in the East with the Orleans Firebirds in recent weeks, the Chatham Anglers made it clear on Monday night that they aim to hang onto it, as evidenced by some first-inning fireworks that led to a 6-1 victory at Eldredge Park.
Cooper Davis opened the July 8 outing with a single to left, setting the tone for the game and setting things up for a stellar evening that kicked off with three runs scored in the top of the first. After Anthony Vilar drew the first out, Jamal O'Guinn II smacked a single to third to put Davis on second just before Alejandro Toral was walked to load the bases.
As Orleans starting pitcher Austin Love scrambled to regain control, Ben Ramirez batted into a fielder's choice that sent O'Guinn to third while bringing in Davis for the Anglers' first run of the game. After Ramirez snagged second during Kaden Polcovich's at bat, Polcovich hit a nice double that brought in O'Guinn and Ramirez, giving Chatham a 3-0 edge after half an inning.
Parker Scott then took the mound for the visiting Anglers as the Firebirds came up to bat. Initially it seemed they were heading in the same direction as the boys in blue as leadoff batter Max Troiani opened with a single, followed by another single from Eddie McCabe, but a fly out from Zach Britton and a well executed double play between Chatham third baseman Vilar, second baseman Huey Morrill, and first baseman Toral quickly ended the inning.
Though each team had its chances after the opening inning, savvy game play kept both the Firebirds and Anglers off the scoreboards. Chatham's Cooper Davis had a single in the second with two outs, but was left stranded when Vilar was out at first.
The Firebirds' Tanner Murray also had a single in the second but was picked off attempting to steal second, with teammates Zach Kokoska striking out and Shay Whitcomb blooping into an easy third out.
From there the pitching battle ensued as both sides were continuously retired in quick succession. Scott lasted seven innings with nine strikeouts, five hits and no runs, while Love lasted four innings with four strikeouts, four hits, and three runs.
The Anglers looked ready to strike again in the top of the seventh when Keaton Rice reached on a walk to lead things off, racing to second on an error by Orleans shortstop Eddie McCabe after Morrill's strikeout as Davis made his way to first. Unfortunately, Vilar also struck out and Davis incurred the third out when he was picked off.
Hoping to add some insurance to their tally in the eighth, the Anglers subbed in Tyler Doanes to run for O'Guinn, which proved a savvy move. After a fly out from Toral, Ramirez swung into a fielder's choice that was bobbled by Orleans first baseman Trevin Esquerra, allowing Doanes to reach third as Ramirez landed on second.
An intentional walk on Polcovich set up a bases loaded situation that the Firebirds hoped to solve with a double play. Then Cade Cabbiness struck out, leaving the bases loaded with two outs as Orleans fans cheered. But hopes of a third out before another run scored were dashed when Rice was hit by a pitch, sending Doanes home before Morrill's fly ball in foul territory ended the top of the inning.
The Firebirds' lone run came in the bottom of the eighth when Shay Whitcomb hit a nice homer, but savvy pitching from closer RJ Dabovich stopped any further damage.
Chatham put the cap on the game in the ninth with two more runs, the first when Vilar scored during another hit-by-pitch bases loaded situation and the second when Toral scored after Cabbiness was walked. Then it was up to Dabovich, who retired the last Orleans batters 1-2-3 to end the game.
On the Anglers' side, Davis went 3-for-5 with one run, while Vilar went 1-for-4 with one run and Polcovich went 1-for-3 with two RBIs. O'Guinn went 1-for-2 with one run, while on the mound, closer Dabovich came in for two innings with two strikeouts, two hits and one run.
For Orleans, Whitcomb went 2-for-3 with one run and one RBI, while relief pitcher Owen Sharts stepped in for one inning, striking out two. David Stiehl then came in for two innings with two strikeouts, with closer Jeff Praml striking out one and allowing two hits and three runs in two innings.
The Anglers host Falmouth tonight (July 11) at 7 p.m. before heading to South Yarmouth to face the Y-D Red Sox tomorrow at 5 p.m. On Saturday the Anglers land in Hyannis for a 5 p.m. game before returning to Veterans Field to host the Harbor Hawks at 7 p.m. on Sunday. On Monday the Anglers host the Brewster Whitecaps in a make-up game at 7 p.m. before traveling to Brewster for a 5 p.m. game on Tuesday.
Orleans host Hyannis tonight at 7 p.m., then travel to Hyannis for a 6 p.m. game on Friday before hosting the Red Sox in a 7 p.m. game on Saturday. On Sunday the Firebirds travel to Cotuit for a 5 p.m. contest before enjoying a day off on July 15. They return home July 16 to host Cotuit at 7 p.m.