CHATHAM, NJ - It’s no secret that Chatham has a dominant pitching staff. But when the pitchers struggle, the Cougars found out that the hitters are capable of carrying the load.
After falling behind by two runs, the Chatham put together a two-out, three-run rally in the bottom of the third inning en route its sixth straight win, a 3-2 victory over Bernards on Thursday at Chatham High.
Matt Devlin broke the 2-2 tie with his RBI single and closed out the seventh to earn the save for undefeated Chatham (6-0).
“They always say hitting is contagious,” Chatham coach Todd Leathers said. “Once one person went, it seemed like we all went.”
Sam Blanchard (2-0) got the start against Bernards, but quickly fell behind after allowing a sacrifice fly in the first inning and an RBI single in the third. Despite being down, the Cougars remained confident.
Jack Lamar led off the bottom of the third with a single to center field, and he moved to second base after a sacrifice bunt from Sean Lee. After Jimmy Cunningham popped out to second base, Peter DeMaria drove a double into the gap in right center field to put Chatham on the board.
Chris Delsandro followed with a double of his own to left field to tie the game at 2-2. Devlin then hit a bloop single behind third base, just deep enough to bring in Delsandro and give the Cougars the lead.
“I knew I was going to get a curveball and he threw one to me, and I put a good swing on it,” DeMaria said. “We were able to get the bat on the ball and make things happen. We took the lead and didn’t look back from there.”
With the lead, Blanchard was able to pitch more comfortably. He allowed just two baserunners in his final three innings of work, while also striking out four.
“I kind of just settled in,” Blanchard said. “Getting ahead in the count kind of got in their head, and it was easier to finish them off.”
Blanchard finished with six innings pitched, two earned runs, six strikeouts and no walks. Devlin came on in relief and closed out the game, getting a strikeout and earning the save.
With the win, Chatham is off to a hot start in 2017. Blanchard believes that the team is playing more confidently than ever.
“Three years ago, we went 4-20," Blanchard said. "Last year we went 10-15. So a 6-0 start is definitely great. It feels good, but we’ve got to keep it going. We can’t step off the gas pedal now.”
The Cougars resume action on Monday, April 20 when they play host to Delbarton at 4 p.m.