CHATHAM — On Saturday afternoon the Chatham A’s were making a run toward a Cape League championship. By Sunday night, they were packing their bags and heading home.
Despite superb performances by their starting pitchers, Chatham fell to the Y-D Red Sox in the East Division championship series, losing 4-3 at Red Wilson Field Saturday (see related story) before a 4-0 loss at home the next night that ended their otherwise sterling season.
Down And Out. Long faces lined the Chatham A’s dugout following their series and season ending loss to Y-D Sunday night. ERIC ADLER PHOTO.
Y-D, which is facing Falmouth in the CCBL championship in a repeat of the ’04 title series, has now won the East Division title three of the past four years, and established itself as something of a dynasty in a parity-driven league. Chatham ends its summer campaign with a 25-20-3 record.
“We had a great year and won a whole bunch of games, so it’s disappointing to lose like this,” said veteran first baseman Alan Dykstra, who led the A’s in RBIs the past two seasons. “You finally get into the playoffs and then you’re two and out.”
What made the series loss tougher to swallow was that Chatham limited Y-D, which led the league with a team .277 batting average, to just four hits in Sunday’s game two showdown. Problem was, three of them left the park.
The Red Sox wasted no time playing home run derby, as Gordon Beckham deposited Tom Milone’s 2-1 change-up over the left field fence in a juicy first inning match up that featured the league’s home run king against the league’s most outstanding pitcher.
It was the 10th round tripper for Beckham, whose big shot blast, which followed Buster Posey’s single earlier in the inning, got the attention of all 5,445 fans at Veterans Field.
Y-D added to their 2-0 lead when Nick Romero hammered an opposite-field moon shot off Milone in the eighth. The Red Sox went yard one last time thanks to Jason Castro’s line-drive round tripper off A’s reliever Kevin Couture in the ninth.
Nick Cassavechia, the league’s outstanding relief pitcher, retired the A’s in short order during their last licks, making a winner out of Y-D starter Scott Green, who yielded just three hits and struck out seven over six-and-one-third innings.
With the exception of the two homers hit off him, Milone was equally impressive. He struck out the side in order in the seventh and racked up 10 K’s altogether in seven-and-two-third innings of work.
“Tommy pitched liked the league’s outstanding pitcher should pitch,” Schiffner said. “He held the best team to four hits and unfortunately three of those hits were home runs. It’s our job offensively to do a better job, but then again, you have to give credit to Green, who threw a great game too.”
With Green firing on all cylinders, Chatham never had much of a chance, and squandered the few opportunities it did.
Addison Johnson (2-for-4) singled through the left side and Kyle Seager drew a walk to follow to ignite a Chatham rally in the first inning. The Carolina natives moved over on Dykstra’s ground out but no further, as Beckham scooped up Tim Federowicz’s grounder and made the routine throw to first to keep the A’s at bay.
Chatham made another stab to get on the board in the sixth when Seager hit a one-out single and moved up after Jermaine Curtis was hit by a pitch. But Dykstra’s hard liner to left was caught and Federowicz swung at a third strike in the dirt.
The A’s managed just two more base runners the entire game, neither of which made it into scoring position.
Getting shutout at home was not the way the A’s wanted to go out, but in the final analysis, Schiffner commended the effort of his team for not quitting just because they were on the brink of elimination.
“I don’t think the kids had one foot in the car and the other on the field,” Schiffner said. “They wanted to play the game and they wanted to win. We tip our hats to Y-D. They’re an excellent baseball team. The kids did everything they could and still Y-D beat us.”
In doing so, the Red Sox punched their ticket to the finals, where they’re attempting to win back-to-back titles just as the ‘89/’90 Y-D club did. Beating Chatham (no pun intended) took an A effort, according to Y-D Field Manager Scott
“Our pitching was very good and we got a few big swings of the bat,” the Red Sox skipper said. “Chatham played very well and they pitched well the whole series. They’re a good ball team, but we were able to swing things in our favor with a few big swings of the bat.”
While long faces lined the Chatham dugout once the final out was recorded, those hang-dog expressions quickly faded in a post-game that was more sentimental than somber. Players willfully signed autographs and posed with each other and with legions of supporters to preserve the memory of a memorable summer, capped by a fan frenzied night in Chatham.
“The atmosphere was amazing,” Dykstra said. “Their fans were cheering loud, our fans were cheering loud, and it was one of those games you wanted to win for the home crowd, because they kept us in it the whole way. I’ll get over the loss, but I’ll miss the coaches, my host family, and all the people involved with the A’s.”
Seager, smiling, echoed that sentiment.
“You couldn’t even see the hill in centerfield. It was amazing,” he said. “People were out here at noon putting up chairs. It was a great atmosphere and a great place to play baseball.”