SOUTH YARMOUTH – The Chatham Anglers have been trading places for the top spot in the East Division with the Y-D Red Sox for a while now, but determination has kept the A's in the lead and served them well on July 12 when they battled to a 1-1 tie at Red Wilson Field.
After Y-D starting pitcher Ledgend Smith quickly retired the first three batters in the Chatham lineup, the Sox did their best to put the Anglers on notice, pushing across a run in the bottom of the first courtesy of Noah Campbell's sacrifice fly that let in teammate Jake Palmer.
For the next six innings it was a contest between the men on the pitcher's mound as Smith and Chatham starter Dawson Merryman duked it out with strikeouts and fly balls, each side going down in rapid succession much to the frustration of both dugouts.
Brad Beesley had a single in the bottom of the third, but a well-executed double play left him stranded. Meanwhile, Harwich's Jamal O'Guinn II swung into a double to left at the top of the fourth, but an easy out followed to end the frame.
Substitutions abounded during the seventh inning, which saw O'Guinn reach first on a walk before making it to second on a wild pitch as Angler fans cheered, eager for a score. That's when Anthony Vilar was subbed in for Paxton Wallace mid-way through Wallace's at-bat, with Vilar earning out No. 2 by striking out. A passed ball allowed O'Guinn to reach third, but the potential run was thwarted when Alejandro Toral batted into an easy out for the Sox.
Angler fans finally got their scoring wish granted in the eighth when Ben Ramirez came home on a single to right from Kaden Polcovich. Ramirez had reached on a single, with Kendrick Calilao following after being hit by a pitch. A single from Hueston Morrill loaded the bases just in time for Polcovich's at-bat.
As dark clouds continued rolling in, bringing a fine, misty rain to the area, each team's closing pitchers did their best to shut down any further scoring chances, though Angler fans had fleeting hope when Cooper Davis was walked at the top of the ninth. But a fly ball from Ramirez left Davis on base.
When Y-D's Beesley led off the bottom of the ninth with a single to center, the anxiety mounted in the Angler fans’ stands, ratcheting further when Beesley stole second at the start of Austin Wells's at-bat. When Wells struck out swinging, Chatham fans cheered, their shouts getting louder when Merryman forced a fielder's choice from Jack-Thomas Wold that trapped Campbell for out No. 2. With all eyes on the on-field action, Y-D's Riley King fouled one, watched another pass by, fouled another, and then swung into an easy out that saw Chatham third baseman Jorge Arenas snap up the ball and send it handily over to first baseman Toral to end the game.
While most fans have their sights set on the All-Star Game on July 21, Chatham's will be watching their team in upcoming games to see if the Anglers will hang onto the top spot in the East, especially with playoffs just a few weeks away.
The Anglers are at home tonight (July 18) against the Y-D Red Sox. Tomorrow they travel to Brewster for a 5 p.m. game, returning home on Saturday for a contest with the Harwich Mariners that will include a special pregame ceremony featuring local Coast Guard personnel beginning at 7 p.m. After the All-Star Game, the Anglers enjoy a day off on July 22 before hosting the Brewster Whitecaps on July 23 at 7 p.m.