BRIDGEWATER, NJ - It was a night to remember for the Chatham baseball team, playing under the lights in the ballpark that the Somerset Patriots call home. Then, in the top of the seventh inning, it turned into a scenario that will be hard to forget.
Chatham took a one-run lead into the top of the seventh and pitcher Matt Devlin retired the first batter before two base hits and miscue on a routine play allowed Mendham to score four times and rally for a 5-2 win over the Cougars on Wednesday night at TD Bank Ballpark.
"It's bad baseball," Chatham coach Todd Leathers said. "We lost because of bad baseball today and that's all there is to it. We get picked off in situations where you flat-out can't get picked off in and then we can't make the routine play in the seventh inning.
"Our pitchers did a great job. We talk about it all the time, we're going to win by taking advantage of other team's mistakes. Today, we were the ones making the mistakes."
Chatham (13-4) got off to a good start when it took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Sean Lee led off with a single to left, moved to second on a wild pitch and was bunted over to third by Connor Winans. Lee scored on Chris Delsandro's single to center. Delsandro was driven home on a two-out single to left by Jimmy Cunningham.
Chatham might have added on in the bottom of the fifth inning when the Cougars opened the inning with two straight base hits, but each time the runner was picked off by Mendham left-hander Hank Powers.
Cunningham, the Chatham starter on the mound, had picked off a Mendham baserunner in the first inning and held the Minutemen to one run before he was lifted in the fifth with no outs and a runner on first. Devlin gave up an infield hit to the first batter he faced, but escaped unscathed when he struck out the next three batters.
Devlin pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning and got the first batter of the seventh before Mendham (7-11) took advantage of two base hits and an error on a routine play to tie the game. The inning quickly fell apart after that.
"We've played two innings like that the entire year," Leathers said. "We're 17 games in and we've had two innings like this. Unfortunately those two innings cost us our county game and it cost us today.
"It's great for the kids to be in a big stadium like this. I just wish the outcome were a little better."
Chatham will play its "Senior Night" game 6:30 p.m. Friday vs. West Morris at Shunpike Field.