Carlos Asuaje went 4-5 with three singles and a two-run home run as Y-D beat Chatham 7-4 Saturday night.
By: Andrew Constant / @andrew_constant
Carlos Asuaje had four hits, including a two-run home run, and Aaron Blair moved his record to 7-0 as the Red Sox beat Chatham 7-4 Saturday night to clinch a spot in the Eastern Division Championship Series.
Shortly after Bryan Verbitsky recorded the final out of the game for Yarmouth-Dennis, the Orleans Firebirds put the finishing touches on a 6-1 victory over Harwich, setting up a matchup of the 2nd and 4th seeds in the East for a chance to play for the Cape League title.
Y-D got two in the top of the first, greeting Chatham starter Thomas Lawrence rudely. Morgan Mickan walked and Asuaje collected his first hit of the night before Sam Travis was issued a free pass, loading the bases with nobody out for the league?s RBI leader, Robert Pehl.
The designated hitter from Washington grounded into a double play, forcing Travis out at second, but Mickan scored from third to put the Red Sox on top just four batters into the game.
Zak Blair ripped a single to right field, bringing Asuaje around from third, to cap the scoring in the first inning.
But Chatham didn?t go down quietly, getting both runs back against Aaron Blair, the Red Sox ace starter. Dale Carey reached on an error by shortstop Danny Diekroger leading off the Anglers? first and advanced to second on a groundout by Michael Fransoso. After Andrew Knapp walked and Pat Valaika struck out, Alex Calbick worked a deep count and took some very close pitches, eventually earning a free pass of his own, loading the bases.
And Adam Engel made Blair pay for issuing two free passes, crushing a double to the right-center field fence, scoring two and tying the game. Both runs were unearned.
The Anglers took their only lead of the night when Louie Lechich led off the home second with a home run to right field, the first long ball Blair has allowed this summer.
In the fourth inning, Y-D got even with a little bit of trickery. After back-to-back one out singles, Red Sox manager Scott Pickler called for a suicide squeeze with Alex Blandino at the plate and Zak Blair at third. Y-D?s third baseman got the bunt down, reaching high over his head with the bat and pushing the ball just far enough in front of the plate for Blair to walk in from third base.
But the Red Sox weren?t done with the bats, as in the fifth, they took the lead for good. Morgan Mickan reached with a one-out walk and cruised around the bases when Asuaje launched a long fly ball over the right-center field wall for his third round-tripper of the year. That would be all Aaron Blair would need, although he only pitched five innings in his first start since the All-Star Game on July 28.
The right-hander from Marshall got through the fifth, finishing his outing with six strikeouts and only the one earned run allowed. Blair walked six, a season high, and allowed just three hits as his ERA jumped to 1.22.
Ricky Knapp was the first out of the Y-D bullpen, pitching three quality innings of relief. He ran into a bit of trouble in the eighth, when Engel led off with a ringing double down the third base line. After John Hennessy moved Engel to third with a groundout to the right side, Knapp fired a wild pitch to Chad Morgan, allowing Engel to trot in with Chatham?s fourth run of the evening.
But Y-D got that run back in the top of the ninth, putting the game out of reach for good. Justin Shafer hit a ground-rule double into the left field corner and moved up to third on a perfectly placed bunt by pinch-hitter Sean McHugh before Mickan doubled to right-center, pushing the lead up to 6-4. Mickan used his hustle to give the Red Sox their final run of the night, scoring all the way from second when Asuaje grounded out to short.
Bryan Verbitsky worked around a walk to pitch a scoreless ninth for his fifth save of the summer.
The Red Sox Eastern Division Championship Series against Orleans will begin Monday afternoon. Game 1 of that series will be at Red Wilson Field and Ben Lively is expected to get the ball to begin the best-of-three matchup.