Andrew Thurman picked up the win in Game 1 against Chatham, going five innings and giving up four runs.
By: Andrew Constant / @andrew_constant
Justin Shafer and Robert Pehl each hit home runs and Andrew Thurman gutted through five innings to help the Yarmouth-Dennis Red Sox (1-0) defeat the Chatham Anglers 7-4 in Game 1 of their best-of-three Eastern Division playoff series Thursday night at Red Wilson Field.
Chatham (0-1) looked like the better team in the opening innings of Game 1, loading the bases in the first inning against Thurman. A hit by pitch, a single and a walk loaded the bases for Pat Valaika with one out in the game?s opening frame, but the shortstop from UCLA lined out to third and Alex Blandino caught the runner too far away from the bag, giving Y-D a much needed double play and allowing them to escape the inning without giving up a run.
But in the second, John Hennessy hit a three-run home run deep over the left-center field wall, giving Chatham a lead against Thurman, who went five innings and allowed five hits and all four Anglers runs.
The Red Sox bats had Thurman?s back, getting their starter off the hook in the bottom of the third inning. Shafer led off the frame with a solo home run to left, his third of the summer, and after two strikeouts, Carlos Asuaje doubled into the left-center field gap. Sam Travis followed with a double of his own, this one to right-center, plating Asuaje easily.
But Y-D wasn?t done, as their cleanup hitter added the final punch of the inning. Robert Pehl, who came into the game leading the team with six home runs and 38 RBI, crushed a two-run homer over the wall in left, giving the Red Sox the lead at 4-3. Pehl, who started for the East in the All-Star Game earlier this summer, has been a shining light in the middle of the Red Sox lineup, providing a powerful spark from the right side of the plate, as he entered the postseason with a .329 average to go with his large power numbers.
Louie Lechich briefly tied the game in the top of the fourth, whacking a solo shot to right center, into the trees, but Chatham didn?t have any more threats in the game.
Blandino got Y-D the lead in the bottom of the fourth, working his way around the bases without picking up a base hit. Chatham starter Michael Wagner hit Blandino with a pitch to lead off the frame, and the Red Sox third baseman went to second when Danny Diekroger grounded out to first. Then, Blandino stole third base easily, putting himself 90 feet away with only one out. Shafer was at the plate and Wagner fired a pitch low and outside, and it rolled all the way to the backstop, allowing Blandino to trot in from third and put the Red Sox on top.
After Thurman completed his outing, lefty Joey Denato entered for Y-D and gave them the kind of effort they?ve come to expect this summer, pitching the final four innings and only yielding two hits.
The southpaw from Indiana struck out four and didn?t work himself into trouble, only needing to sidestep a seventh-inning rally by the Anglers. In the seventh, Dale Carey and Andrew Knapp each singled against Denato, but Adam Engel bounced back to the mound to end the threat.
In the bottom of that same frame, Y-D got two more runs to pad their lead and effectively put the game out of reach. Morgan Mickan singled to begin the inning and stole second base before Carlos Asuaje reached on a bunt single back to the mound. On Asuaje?s bunt, Tate Parrish fielded the ball cleanly, but fell down as he went to throw to first, allowing Asuaje to reach and putting two on with nobody out. Eric Stevens came out of the Chatham bullpen and promptly got Travis to bounce into a first-pitch 6-4-3 double play, wiping out Asuaje, but bringing Mickan in from third with the Red Sox sixth run of the night.
Pehl reached on an infield single to deep short, and pinch runner Robby Campbell stole second base for Zak Blair. The Y-D right fielder lined a single to center, easily scoring Campbell and pushing the lead up to 7-4.
Denato retired the final six Anglers in order, clinching the win for Y-D and putting them just one victory from the Eastern Division Championship Series. Game 2 is Friday night at Veterans Field in Chatham, where the Anglers? backs will be against the wall. Aaron Blair, Y-D?s ace, is scheduled to take the hill against Thomas Lawrence. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.