30 June 2006

Chatham A's off to good start

Chatham short stop Danny Espinosa looks for a pitch to hit during the A's 4-2 loss to the Mariners Tuesday night in Harwich. Espinosa is currently fourth in the league with a .375 average.

After enduring their first two-game slide of the season to start the week, the Chatham A's (6-3-1) rebounded with a 10th inning, rain-soaked 3-2 victory over Yarmouth-Dennis Wednesday night in Chatham, thanks to a game-winning RBI single by Barnstable native Rich Tri.

After back-to-back rainouts during the weekend, the A's and Orleans Cardinals battled for first place on Monday in a rematch of last year's Eastern Division championship.

With the game tied at 1-1 in the 11th inning, the game took a bizarre twist.

With a man on first and third for the Cardinals, A's pitcher Justin Segal was called for a balk, allowing the winning run to come home.

The entire game was played under protest from Chatham after a questionable non-interference call against the Cardinals.

Chatham shortstop Danny Espinosa collected three hits in that 2-1 loss to the Cardinals, and is currently fourth in the league in batting with a .375 average. He also has two home runs, two doubles and two triples on the year. His only issue has been problems with his glove, committing five errors in 10 games, including a costly one against Orleans in the late innings.

After their disappointing loss to rival Orleans on Monday, the A's appeared flat, dropping their second game in a row (and third of the season), 4-2, to Harwich on Tuesday.

Along with Espinosa, the Chatham offense has been led by Chatham second baseman Chris Carrara, who is leading the league with a .476 average in seven games this year, and is tied with teammate Corey Brown for third in stolen bases with six, while catcher Matt Rizotti is tied for the league lead in RBI with 11.

But the hot bats only tell half the tale.

Anchoring the league's second best pitching staff, with a 2.01 team ERA, are starters Ricky Hargrove and Chris Wiman.

Hargrove picked up his first win of the season last Thursday in the A's' 13-0 blowout of Brewster. He pitched five scoreless innings, while only giving up one hit. Hargrove currently carries a 0.54 ERA in 16-plus innings pitched this season.

Against Y-D on Wednesday, he pitched eight innings, giving up one earned run on three hits, but failed to earn the win after Y-D took advantage of error in the seventh inning to tie the game at 2-2.

Wiman pitched eight strong innings against Orleans Monday, giving up only one earned run on two hits, and has an ERA of 1.93 on the season.

Second-year closer Derrick Lutz has been perfect in all four of his outings this year, not giving up a single run and only allowing a lone hit in more than four innings of work.

Last year, Lutz didn't give up an earned run all season, and finished tied for the league lead in saves with 12 in 19 appearances.

Reliever Paul Koss has also had an impact for the A's earning a 2-0 record in three appearances this season. In four innings of work, Koss hasn't given up a run while striking out six.

Looking ahead, the A's will have a busy holiday weekend with games against Brewster at home tonight, at home against red-hot Cotuit tomorrow night, then on the road against Falmouth Sunday before a rematch against Orleans Monday.

By Matt Rice/ mrice@cnc.com