Chatham Central’s defense, pitching holds strong in 2-1 win over Seaforth

The Bears even the season series with the Hawks.


PITTSBORO, N.C. — The Chatham Central baseball team’s defense did the heavy lifting in its 2-1 victory over Seaforth Thursday.

The Hawks beat the Bears in a low scoring affair, 4-3, in their first meeting on March 19. Runs were still hard to come by Thursday night, but even more so for Seaforth, which only managed five hits in the game.

A significant reason for those offensive struggles was Chatham Central senior Anthony Lopossay at the mound. In the first three innings, Lopossay only saw 11 batters and threw five strikeouts.

His fastball gave the Hawks issues all night, which gave the Bears more breathing room while they tried to figure out their own woes from the plate.

“(Lopossay’s) fastball is so difficult to hit because he has so much run on the two-seamer,” Chatham Central head coach Brett Walden said. “We didn’t throw a lot of breaking pitches tonight…We stayed low in the zone.”

Lopossay’s hot start allowed Chatham Central to keep control of the game, despite leaving four runners on base in the first three innings. Seaforth actually struck first in the bottom of the second after freshman Bauer Bowling sacrificed himself to send pinch runner Duffy Palmer home, but the Hawks weren’t getting those opportunities easily nor consistently.

The Bears didn’t score their first run until the top of the third inning when an errant throw from Seaforth pitcher Anders Johansson to third baseman Jaedyn Rader sent Lopossay home from third base. With the game tied at 1-1 going into the bottom of the third, Lopossay continued to hush Seaforth’s bats, striking out three batters and only allowing one single.

And after that, the Bears started to show out in the field, too.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Chatham Central got its first out when a line drive hit by Rader struck Lopossay at the mound. Lopossay, visibly in pain, still managed to throw Rader out at first, but he had to walk the pain off and take a minute before resuming action.

On the next at-bat, junior third baseman Benjamin Wilson one-upped Lopossay by corralling a strike near third base and delivering it on time to throw Seaforth’s Colin Dorney out at first.

And after Lopossay reached home following a wild pitch in the top of the fifth inning to give the Bears a one-run lead, the outfielders joined the party too.

Freshman outfielder Reid Caviness kept Seaforth at bay in the bottom of the fifth by tracking down a fly ball to left field. Seaforth had runners on second and third when Caviness caught the ball.

In the bottom of the sixth, senior Logan Maness also stole hope from the Hawks when he covered half the distance between center field and the right outfielder to snag a deep drive to the right center field gap.

“Defense was very important because we had a lot of fly balls in the gaps,” Chatham Central senior Logan Maness said. “I saw the line drive, and I tried to take the right route to it. I didn’t think it was going to carry that far. I was just trying to stop it from going to the fence, and it started carrying. I just got on it.”

Even though Chatham Central continued to get stop after stop defensively, it once again dealt with stranded baserunners in the crucial moments of the game.

In the top of the seventh inning, Lopossay tripled after his hit to left field was mishandled by Seaforth’s outfielder, which gave the Bears another opportunity to build its 2-1 lead ahead of the Hawks’ final at-bats. However, an out from an unsuccessful bunt, a 3-2 count strikeout and a flyout left Seaforth right where it wanted to be — down one run with pressure on the Bears’ pitcher.

Lopossay gave up two straight singles to open up the decisive inning, but a flyout caught by sophomore Brayden Brewer and a strikeout quickly evened the momentum for the final batter.

Because he hit his pitch count, Walden brought in senior Joaquin Gordon to replace Lopossay, who finished his night with 11 strikeouts. With a runner on third and the winning run on second, Gordon quickly struck out Seaforth’s Tanner Morgan to hold off the Hawks and clinch the win for Chatham Central.

“I saw that Anthony was throwing fast balls by him, and he was throwing it outside,” Gordon said. “I had a little nerve in me, but I had to pull it out for my team. I got him out and won the game for us.”