MADISON, NJ - While some baseball teams may become anxious clinging to a one-run lead in the final inning of the game, Chatham seemed more confident than ever.
The Cougars put together a seven-run rally in the top of the seventh inning en route to a 14-6 victory on the road against Madison on Friday night.
“It was a roller-coaster game for us,” Chatham coach Todd Leathers said. “In the seventh, I told the guys ‘Hey, we have a one-run lead, I’ll take it, let’s relax’ and they had some good at-bats after that.”
Leading 7-1 in the fourth inning, Chatham struggled to stay out in front. Madison put up two runs in the fifth after a dropped a fly ball, and nearly tied the game in the bottom of the sixth. A throwing error brought in two more runs, and an RBI single by Madison's Aidan Kane brought the score to 7-6.
“We got a little complacent,” Leathers said. “You felt the energy in the dugout kind of back off a little bit. Next thing you know, it’s 7-6.”
Despite nearly losing the lead, the Cougars remained undaunted. After Sam Browning reached on a fielding error by Madison’s first baseman, Connor Kressler and Andrew Bergman were able to draw back-to-back walks to load the bases. Jack Lamar reached on an infield single to bring in one run, and Sean Lee followed with a bases-loaded walk to extend the lead to 9-6.
Connor Winans kept the ball rolling and laced a double down the left field line, bringing in two more runs. After Chris Delsandro walked, Matt Devlin hit a double of his own down the right-field line to add another two runs. Browning grounded into an RBI fielder’s choice in his second at-bat of the inning, bringing home the seventh and final Cougar run of the inning.
“We’re really starting to come together,” Lee said. “We’re getting some good momentum and we hope to continue.”
Matt Karpowic had the start for Chatham, going 5 1/3 innings and allowing five runs while striking out five. Devlin came on in relief for Karpowic in the middle of the sixth and pitched the remaining 1 1/3 innings, allowing one run and only one hit. Despite allowing six runs in total, Leathers believes his pitchers had strong performances.
“I don’t think anything really went wrong. Karpowic did a great job today, he got a lot of quick outs early on,” Leathers said. “I think they had 4-5 infield hits, which was very rare. They weren’t bunts, either – it was poor contact for weak hits.”
Lee was a standout offensively for Chatham. He went 1-3 with three RBI’s, two walks, and two runs scored. He accounted for five of Chatham’s 14 runs.
“I was feeling good,” the sophomore said. “It’s great to have the team behind me. I had complete faith that we would be able to pull it off.”
Delsandro also had three RBI’s, while Winans, Devlin, Lamar, and Browning each knocked in two.
Chatham improves to 7-2 with the victory. The Cougars resume action on Monday, April 24 when they travel to Montville to face the Mustangs at 4 p.m.