By Ben Strober
Yarmouth-Dennis’ offense appeared lifeless as they wilted through the first five innings. They plated just one on three hits, with two coming from the same guy.
Hunter Hines changed that narrative with a monumental two-run blast to make it a one-run game in the sixth. Or so the Red Sox had thought.
With momentum finally heading Y-D’s direction, Trace Willhoite snatched it right back into Chatham’s arms.
Willhoite crushed an opposite-field two-run knockout blast, moving the Anglers into a three-run lead they’d never relinquish.
“Kid left a pitch middle, and he crushed it,” field manager Scott Pickler said. “We missed three spots today, and they hurt us on all three pitches.”
Three Chatham homers sent the already eliminated Anglers to their third win over the Eastern Division leaders. The 6-4 loss for Y-D sets up a pivotal battle with Orleans at home tomorrow, with the winner likely deciding the one-seed in the East.
“We’ll see what we’re made of tomorrow,” Pickler said. “They’re playing for themselves; we’ll see if they play for the team.”
A leadoff walk from Y-D starter Jason Doktorczyk put him into hot water fast. Brennan Holt stole second, and the throw to get him whizzed into center, allowing him to take third.
Tyler Wulfert gave Chatham the lead with a one-out knock that fell just in front of Enzo Apodaca in center.
Trace Willhoite continued Chatham’s early success with a solo homer in the second. The Anglers’ offense kept the pressure on in the third by implementing two-on with one out.
A laser from Y-D catcher Manny Garza caught the Angler attempting to swipe third, then Doktorczyk induced an inning-ending pop-out to complete his first scoreless frame.
Theo Hardy laced a ball to right to give the Red Sox their first hit of the afternoon, which led to two in scoring position with two outs. However, RJ Austin grounded out to keep the score at 2-0.
Those runners on base would have tied the game, but not for long. Kaeden Kent pulled out a two-run blast to make it a four-run Chatham lead.
“Pitchers on the Cape can’t miss locations like that,” Pickler said.
What should have been a leadoff strikeout to Braden Montgomery ended with the right fielder occupying second base following an errant throw on the dropped third strike. A sac-fly moved him, then Zander Darby’s 4-3 putout brought in Y-D’s first run.
Pickler and Hardy spent the evening before working for over an hour on swing adjustments, and evidently, it worked. Hardy notched another single in his second at-bat. Still, through five, Hardy had two of just three Y-D hits.
“We just hit the cage and made some adjustments,” Pickler said.
Hardy held a pivotal spot late in the game, which resulted in an aggressive swing for a strikeout.
“He reverted back to what he wasn’t doing well,” Pickler said.
After two-straight scoreless innings from Red Sox reliever Blake Aita, Hunter Hines lifted a lifeless-looking Y-D offense with a monster two-run homer to create a one-run game.
Just as the Red Sox finally felt momentum swaying their direction, Willhoite delivered a crushing blow with his second homer, a two-run jack.
Per usual, the battle from the boys began in the ninth. Y-D loaded the bases and even saw a run score on a wild pitch. The tying run sat on second base, but the Red Sox didn’t find the timely hit they needed.
“We’re going to the playoffs,” Pickler said. “This will be fun; we’ll see if we’re able to do anything in the playoffs.”