Chatham Baseball Gives No. 2 Seed Somerville All it Can Handle in 2-1 State Playoff Loss

First-year coach Todd Leathers holds his final post-game meeting of the season and thanks the seniors for what they did for the program Credits: TAP Chatham
Senior right-hander Jack Hale allowed five hits and one earned run in pitched the route for Chatham Credits: TAP Chatham

BRIDGEWATER, NJ - Chatham baseball captain Jake Bevich might have said it best: "It took them two days to do it."

No. 15 seed Chatham made its bid for an upset before it was eliminated from the state tournament by No. 2 seed Somerville, 2-1, on Tuesday in a game picked up from where it left off Monday at the Torpey Complex.

Chatham had the tying run on base in the top of the seventh before Somerville (16-9) closed it out to end the Cougars' season. 

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"We're building a program, it's not just one year," Chatham's first-year coach Todd Leathers said. "I'm really, really proud of this group of guys and I want to thank the seniors for what they did this season."

One of those Leathers was happy to thank was senior right-handed pitcher Jack Hale, who allowed one earned run and kept Chatham in the game throughout, striking out two and walking none. He surrendered five hits.

"Jack is who he is," Leathers said. "He comes out and pounds the strike zone with his fastball. We joke around that he's like a video game. You call a pitch and spot and he hits it. It's the reason he has a sub-2 ERA. Unfortunately, when you look at the teams we lost to this year, a lot of them are ranked in the state. He's done everything that's been asked of him and then some."

Hale showed how tough he can be in the first inning when the leadoff batter singled and his errant pickoff throw put the runner at third with no outs. Hale escaped the jam by inducing a comebacker for the first out, fielded a grounder and threw out the runner at the plate and then stranded two runners when shortstop Chris Bredahl made a backhand pickup in the hole and threw out the runner at first.

Two Chatham throwing errors put Somerville up, 1-0, in the bottom of the second before the Cougars threatened in the third. With one out, Brian Brady walked and Bevich singled to center to put runners on first and second. Robbie Moskowitz then lifted a fly ball to right. The ball was dropped, but right fielder JoJo Mosca recovered in time to get the force at second base.

That's when Leathers waved home Brady, who was thrown out at the plate by shortstop Preston Scott

"An aggressive move," Leathers said. "If we're going down, we're going to go down being aggressive. We want to make other teams make plays. It took a perfect throw from the shortstop to get him."

Chatham (10-15) tied the score and had a chance to take the lead in the fourth. Cougars catcher Peter DeMaria singled to center to lead off the fourth and courtesy runner Sam Browning scored with one out when Chris Delsandro's liner to left was overplayed by the left fielder. The ball got past the charging outfielder for an RBI triple.

With Delsandro on third and one out, Leathers called for a suicide-squeeze bunt and Ryan Barnett popped it up. Somerville first baseman Kellen Hardy caught the ball and easily doubled off Delsandro, who had made the slide into home plate.

"In a 1-1 game we're going to be aggressive," Leathers said. "We're the 15th seed and we wanted to get a lead to put some pressure on them. Ryan has proved over and over again that he's the best bunter on the team. Being the hockey player he is, his hands are unbelievable. It's one of those things, if we can take a 2-1 lead, we can put a little doubt in them."

Somerville broke the tie with a two-out double in the fourth.

Bredahl hit the second of his two singles in the sixth when Chatham stranded two runners.

Chatham pitcher Jack Hale induces a ground ball to third base for an out vs. Somerville


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