By: Koki Riley
CHATHAM, MA- In a game that coach Jamie Shevchik labeled the most important of the Brewster Whitecaps’ young season, it seemed as though the Whitecaps were doomed from the start.
Shevchik was hoping to get at least six innings from starter Zach Linginfelter (Tennessee), who entered the game with an ERA of zero in his first two appearances.
Instead, he got zero, as Linginfelter was removed after throwing a few warmup pitches before the bottom of the first inning and the Whitecaps would go on to lose to the Anglers 5-4 at Veteran’s Field on Saturday night.
“I think he has a strained oblique. He felt something in the bullpen on his last pitch and tried to go out but just couldn’t do it,” said Shevchik. “We’re going to rest him for a few days and see if he gets any better. Hopefully it’s minor, but if it is a strained oblique it could be a couple weeks.”
After jumping out to a 3-0 lead through two innings, Brewster failed to capitalize with runners on base throughout the game, including two bases loaded situations.
In the eighth inning, the Whitecaps only trailed by one run and had the bases loaded with only one out, but A.J. Graffanino (Washington) struck out, and the Whitecaps' hopes for another comeback were squashed on the very next play.
Kyle Datres (UNC) ripped a line drive into left-center field, only to be robbed of extra bases by a spectacular diving catch from Anglers center fielder D.J. Artis (Liberty).
The former Red Sox draftee’s sensational catch was essentially the final nail in the coffin for Brewster, as Anglers reliever Jack DeGroat (Liberty) would finish off the Whitecaps in the ninth inning for the save.
In the fifth inning, the Whitecaps had the bases loaded with one out, but failed to score after a line drive off the bat of Connor Smith (Western Michigan) went right to Anglers shortstop Jeremy Pena (Maine), who caught Michael Curry (Georgia) too far off second and touched the bag to complete the double play for the third out of the inning.
“We had opportunities to score runs and we didn’t,” said Shevchik. “We struck out in big situations where all we had to do is put the ball in play. It wasn’t so much what they did to us as we shot ourselves in the foot.”
With the team’s struggles to get the big hit, the highlight of the game for the Whitecaps was the spectacular performance from reliever Jonathan Stiever (Indiana).
The righty from Cedarburg, Wisconsin would not surrender a run or walk a batter in 5.1 innings of work, while striking out eight Anglers.
“Mostly just attacking with the fastball,” said Stiever. “I was able to locate that and pitch off that throughout my whole outing. It was really the key to it.”
“He’s still going to pitch in the bullpen. He’s going to pitch in similar situations that he is right now,” said Shevchik on Stiever’s role going forward. “Now if we lose Zach [Linginfelter] for the summer, that changes a lot of things. I think the perfect role for him is exactly what you saw today. Come in early on and be able to stretch it out for a handful of innings.”
With Liginfelter unable to start, Shevchik turned to Pauly Milto (Indiana) to take the hill for Brewster.
Milto struggled with his command, and despite two scoreless innings to start things off and three runs of support from his offense, the right-hander surrendered all five of the Anglers’ runs in the bottom of the third.
“He just has to have a short memory,” said Stiever of his Indiana teammate. “It was kind of a spot start, he didn’t know he was going to pitch until right before the game. He’ll flush it, he’s a competitor.”
After Milto loaded the bases with one out, Anglers second baseman Josh Shaw (St. John’s) lined a two-run single to right, scoring Jake Palomaki (Boston College) and Jeremy Pena (Maine) to cut the Chatham deficit to one in the third.
Jacob Olson (South Carolina) followed with a two-run double, giving the Anglers the 4-3 lead.
Olson himself would then score thanks to another Anglers double from the designated hitter Shea Langeliers (Baylor).
The Whitecaps got out to their 3-0 lead thanks to a Mickey Gasper (Bryant) sacrifice fly in the first inning, followed by a second inning RBI-groundout by Graffanino and a Gasper RBI-single.
Brewster would get a run back on a Curry sacrifice fly to right field in the sixth inning, but the 5-4 Chatham lead would hold.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Whitecaps head back home on Sunday for a doubleheader against the Bourne Braves with the first game slated to start at 2 p.m.