CHATHAM, NJ - Some teams have to settle for either strong pitching or strong hitting. The Chatham baseball team boasted both in its first game of the 2017 season.
Senior right-hander Sam Blanchard pitched six scoreless innings and the Cougars received RBIs from Sam Browning, Peter DeMaria, Jimmy Cunningham, Jack Lamar and Tyler Brock in their 7-0 win over Jefferson Monday at Chatham High.
"Blanch pitched lights out," Chatham catcher Chris Delsandro said. "He located his fastball well. His curveball was there, even his changeup. He did what seniors are supposed to do."
Blanchard got the ball rolling for the Cougars early on, striking out the side in order in the top of the first. After Blanchard worked out of a jam in the top of the second, the Cougar bats got to work. A single and stolen base by Matt Devlin set up an RBI double for Browning to put Chatham on the board.
Sam Browning talks about Chatham's season-opening victory over Jefferson
Lamar followed up in the bottom of the fourth inning. After a double from Devlin and a walk by Brock, a passed ball moved the runners up, giving Lamar an opportunity with runners on second and third and two outs. Lamar sent a ground ball back up the middle that barely missed the glove of Jefferson shortstop Kyle Haller, bringing in two more runs.
An inning later, Browning hit another RBI double to bring in Devlin, this time drilling it down the third-base line. Browning scored on an error, putting the Cougars ahead 5-0 through the fifth.
Chatham tacked on two more insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth. Back-to-back RBI doubles from Cunningham and DeMaria extended the Cougar lead to 7-0. Billy Gyves came on in relief for Blanchard in the bottom of the seventh and shut the door on
Blanchard scattered three hits ove his six innings, striking out eight and walking none. and eight strikeouts.
“That’s who he is,” Chatham coach Todd Leathers said. “He’s got great control. He’s going to locate and pound the zone, and we expect that from him.”
Leathers also praised the hitting in Chatham’s season opener. Devlin collected a double, an RBI and three runs scored and Lamar had three hits and two RBI.
“We were aggressive, and it worked today,” Leathers said. “Early on, we were a little bit slow, but later in the game we were laying off balls and attacking their pitches. Their starting pitcher did well, but we took advantage of his mistakes.”
Chatham is set to resume action on Tuesday, when it plays host to Morris Catholic at 4 p.m.