Saturday, June 25th, 2011
By Ryan Hines
Mariners, Locos split a pair of pitching duels
  CELINA - Outstanding pitching performances were the highlight of Friday's Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League doubleheader between the Grand Lake Mariners and the Lima Locos.
Brandon Alger threw 10 shutout innings to guide Grand Lake to a 1-0 win in the first game while a trio of Lima hurlers combined on a one-hit shutout to lead the Locos to a 2-0 win in the second game.
Alger and Lima's Mike O'Neal put on a pitching clinic in the first game as both lefthanders tamed the opposing offenses. Game one was scoreless through the originally scheduled seven innings, so the game went into extra frames.
Grand Lake's Dan Marcuzzo got the game-winning Mariners' rally started with a double to leftfield.
Patrick Duncan then tried to sacrifice bunt Marcuzzo to third base but it turned into the winning play for Grand Lake (3-5). O'Neal fielded the bunt and threw to Andy Chriscaden at first base for an out, but Duncan hustled all the way on the play and hit Chriscaden's glove to jar the ball loose. The ball rolled about 10 feet away from Chriscaden and Marcuzzo raced home for the winning run.
"The glove hit me right here," said Duncan pointing to the belt on his uniform which must have knocked the ball loose on the final play at first base.
"Both pitchers were outstanding in that first game and I think that it just came down to which team was going to make the first mistake," said Grand Lake manager Mike Goldschmidt. "I'm still not sure what was called on that last play, but I know that we caught a break and found a way to win the game."
Alger threw 126 pitches and allowed just five hits while striking out five to pick up the win on the mound for Grand Lake.
"I just threw strikes and got ground balls. I threw mostly fastball until the sixth inning and then started to mix the slider in," said Alger.
"He was phenomenal for all 10 innings. He was around the plate all game long and just was dominant," said Goldschmidt about Alger.
O'Neal struck out eight and only gave up six hits while taking the hard-luck loss.
Game two appeared to be headed for extra innings as well before Lima (7-4) broke out of its offensive slump in the sixth inning.
Grand Lake's Patrick Veerkamp was dominant for the first five innings and got the first two outs in the sixth frame before a miscommunication by the Mariners' defense opened the flood gates for the Locos.
Dustin Dunlop lofted a shallow fly ball near the rightfield line where three Grand Lake defenders converged to make a play on the ball. Grand Lake's second baseman Mel Skochdopole and rightfielder Brian Robinson had the best opportunity to catch the pop up, but neither called for the ball and it dropped to the ground for a foul ball.
Dunlop then ripped the next pitch he saw for a single. Two pitches later, Conner Hudnell blasted an RBI triple to rightfield to put the Locos on top 1-0. Chriscaden then lined an RBI single to centerfield to put Lima ahead 2-0.
"I thought that we had players there to make the play but it was a lack of communication on the play and it kept the door open for them," said Goldschmidt. "That's the rightfielder's ball or the second baseman's ball. One of them has to make the play."
The two-run sixth frame by Lima ended a 30-inning scoreless drought by the Locos, dating back to the third inning of last Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Mariners.
Grand Lake put two runners on base in the bottom of the sixth inning with only one out, thanks to walk and Locos' error, which led to the exit of Lima's starting pitcher Zach Helewski.
Lima's southpaw Travis Kottenbrock came on in relief to face left-handed hitting Jack Scanlon, who worked the count for a 2-0 advantage before popping out in foul territory for the second out. The Locos again went to the bullpen and called for closer Zach Sterling, who struck out Jason Bagoly looking to end the Mariners' threat.
The Mariners mounted another potential rally in the bottom of the seventh inning when Duncan reached on a Locos' error before Mike Coughlin and Robinson were walked to load the bases.
Sterling then struck out John Bowron and induced a pop fly on the infield from Patrick Harshman to end the game.
Helewski was the winning pitcher for Lima after 5 1/3 strong innings and four strikeouts. Sterling earned his third save of the summer with 1 1/3 hitless innings.
The Mariners finished the twinbill with just seven hits in 17 innings.
Grand Lake is back in action again on Sunday at 1 p.m. with a matchup against Licking County in Newark.
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Weather forecast
for Saturday:

Mostly sunny