Yesterday, I had a chance to see the four Eastern division teams that seem to be playing for the opportunity to square off against Orleans in the playoffs. The first stop was at Stony Brook School for the Y-D - Brewster game, which the Whitecaps won 2-0. If you like a well-pitched, low-scoring game, this was the place to be. Brewster sent Buddy Baumann (Missouri State) to the mound. He was opposed by Tyler Waldron (Univ. of the Pacific) for the Red Sox. Both pitchers worked quickly and threw strikes, and the game took only two hours to complete. Brewster scored both of their runs in the fourth inning. Clean-up batter Ryan Wheeler ((Loyola Marymount)lead off the inning with a one hopper that took a bad bounce over the first baseman. After moving to second on a fielder's choice, Wheeler scored on a single up the middle by James Meador (San Diego). Derek Poppert followed with a double down the leftfield line to put runners on second and third. Jason Nappi (Mississippi State) hit a ball deep enough into the outfield to score Meador, despite the efforts of Y-D catcher Tony Sanchez (Boston College) to block Meador off the plate.
The story of the game was the pitching of Baumann who tossed a complete game. Baumann was not overpowering as he struck out only five Y-D batters but the Whitecaps supported him with errorless play in the field. Y-D never really threatened as no Red Sox made it past second base. Whit Merrifield (South Carolina) doubled to lead off the Y-D sixth, but moved no further.
Waldron pitched well in a losing cause for the Red Sox. He pitched 7 1/3 innings, allowing eight hits, walked none, and struck out five.
Notes: Baumann's complete game gives a much needed boost to a depleted staff. Tim Clubb has been dropped from the Whitecaps roster. Rory McKean (Mississippi) who has served as the closer for most of the year, is tonight's scheduled starter. Poppert went 3 for 3 and raised his average to .303. Keenan Wiley (Kentucky) had 2 of Y-D's 5 hits. Although they remain in last place in the East, Y-D continues to lead the league in batting with a .278 average. The Red Sox host Orleans this afternoon. The Whitecaps play at Chatham in the first of a home and home series with the A's.
The rapid pace of the game in Brewster allowed me to arrive at Veterans Field in the bottom of the first inning for the Harwich - Chatham game. The Mariners beat the A's 4-3 in ten innings. Chatham scored single runs in the first three innings off of Harwich starter J.J. Hoover (West Virginia) to take an early 3-0 lead. Grant Green (USC) lead off the bottom of the first with his fourth homerun of the year. The run in the second inning was unearned. In the third, Victor Sanchez (San Diego) hit a sacrifice fly to score Kyle Seager (UNC) with the A's final run. Mariners pitching held Chatham to just one more hit over the final seven innings.
Justin Marks (Louisville) was making his third start of the summer. He allowed only three hits over his five innings but suffered with control problems as he walked four and threw a wild pitch. In the Mariners fourth, Marks gave up a single to D.J. LeMahieu (LSU). Following a walk and a fly out, LeMahieu scored on that wild pitch. The score remained 3-1 heading into the eighth inning. The inning began innocently enough, with LeMahieu on first as the result of Green's throwing error, sandwiched around two strikeouts. Brandon Belt (Texas) kept the inning alive with a single to rightfield. LeMahieu advanced to third when Evan Ocheltree (Wake Forest) bobbled the ball. David Hale (Princeton) was brought in from the bullpen to replace Carmine Giardina (Central Florida) at this point. The first batter he faced, Tommy Medica (Santa Clara), ripped a single to rightfield to bring the Mariners within one. Hale struck out Chase Leavitt (Arkansas) to prevent any further damage. Chatham went down in order in the bottom half of the inning and the teams went to the ninth with the A's nursing a 3-2 lead.
Chatham brought Brad Boxberger (USC) in to try to close it out. After some early-season success, Boxberger has struggled mightily recently. His struggles would continue last night as he began the inning by hitting Shaver Hansen (Baylor) with a pitch. Hansen was bunted to second and remained there as Joe Sanders (Auburn) flew out to centerfield. Hansen advanced to third on a wild pitch (is there a theme here ?). Jeff Cusick (UC-Irvine) provided the Mariners with the big two-out hit to tie the game.
Chatham had a chance to win the game in the bottom of the ninth with the help of three walks (one intentional). The Mariners brought in Steve Kalush (Santa Clara) to face Green and he struck him out on three pitches to end the threat.
Jeff Lorick (Virginia) came in to pitch in the top of the tenth inning and the bullpen problems continued for Chatham. Lorick hit Jason Stidham (FSU) with a pitch to start the inning. Belt walked. Medica hit a ball to deep leftfield for the first out. The next batter, Leavitt, hit a ball back to Lorick, which deflected off his glove to Green. Green's only play was to get Leavitt at first, with the other runners moving up on the play. With Hansen at the plate, Lorick uncorked another wild pitch (OK, there is a theme here) that allowed Stidham to score what would be the winning run. Chatham went down in order in the bottom half of the inning and the Mariners held onto second place in the East.
Notes: Chatham pitchers issued 7 walks and threw five wild pitches. Dustin Ackley did not play in the game. The Mariners are second in team ERA (2.96). Hoover settled down to allow only 5 hits in his 7 innings of work. He struck out 7 while only walking one. Chatham batters have struck out 306 times. The next closest team in that category is Wareham with 278 K's. The A's Ocheltree was ejected for saying the magic word after being called out on strikes in the ninth inning. With Gabe Cohen unavailable due to an injury suffered on Wednesday, that ejection forced the A's to use Matt Harvey in rightfield. Chatham hosts Brewster tonight and plays at Brewster tomorrow. Harwich is at Bourne tonight.