HARWICH/CHATHAM – It wasn't necessarily the way the Chatham Anglers wanted to end their 2019 season, but the game of baseball can be a fickle friend as the A's learned when they fell to Harwich in the first round of the playoffs.
One run was all it took for the Mariners to defeat the Anglers on Aug. 2, thanks to a timely sacrifice fly hit by Chris Galland in the top of the sixth that brought home Hal Hughes. The run would prove the only run of the game, which saw stellar pitching from both teams, though it was Harwich's Connor McCullough that earned the win and Joe Boyle the save against Chatham's Dan Federman, Austin Vernon, and Luke Bartnicki.
McCullough lasted six innings with five strikeouts and only three walks, while Boyle stepped in for three innings, fanning six with no walks, runs, hits or errors. On the Chatham side, Federman stayed on the mound for five innings with four strikeouts and two hits, with Vernon stepping in for one inning with two strikeouts, one hit, one error, and one run before giving way to Bartnicki, who had two strikeouts, one walk, and allowed one hit in three innings.
The following afternoon saw the Anglers head to Harwich, where the Mariners made it clear they'd come to win with a big four-run second inning that saw Niko Kavadas and Joey Wiemer, Jr., both come home on an error by Colin Hall, before Sean Harrington and Riley Tirotta came in on a single from Dylan Neuse.
Though the Anglers had late-game scores from Jorge Arenas – his on a dive across home plate – in the eighth and another when Kaden Polcovich homered in the ninth, Harwich hurler Connor Sechler held on to give the Mariners the win.
Arenas, who spent two seasons with the A's, said he'll long remember his Chatham experience, particularly his teammates and the support from coaches.
“All the guys you play with, you know they're going to succeed when they move on from here,” Arenas said. “And words from coaches, lessons you learn every day from playing so much baseball. It's learning how to cope with things and playing at the highest level every day until you reach your full potential.”
First-year player Jamal O'Guinn also appreciated his time with the Anglers.
“I have a great team,” he said. “By far one of the best teams I've ever played on.”
O'Guinn said the people were instrumental in making it special.
“The whole town of Chatham, great host families,” he said. “I'm from the West Coast so being here, it's a little different, but when you have a great team, great host family, and a lot of support from hometown Chatham it makes it a lot of fun.”
But there was one piece of advice O'Guinn emphasized.
“No matter what, whether you're up, down, the best in your career, the worst, just have fun,” he said. “Being out here definitely made me enjoy the game a lot.”