Monday, July 22nd, 2013
Mariners are back on a hot streak
Grand Lake has won four straight games
By Ryan Hines
CELINA - The Grand Lake Mariners took three big steps over the weekend toward earning a berth in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League playoffs.
Grand Lake blasted its first four home runs of the summer while sweeping a road doubleheader - 10-6 and 9-3 - over Lexington on Saturday and the Mariners then rallied to knock off Dayton 4-3 on Sunday to increase their winning streak to four games.
The Mariners (18-15) remain fifth in the GLSCL standings but are within 3 1/2 games of first-place Southern Ohio and 2 1/2 games ahead of sixth-place Dayton. Grand Lake manager Cody Castle isn't just focused on making the six-team postseason field, he has his sights set higher.
"We aren't just trying to slip into the playoffs. We aren't satisfied with just making it, we want to get into one of the top two spots to get a first-round bye," said Castle. "If you get into one of the top two spots, you get a three-game series. The three-through-six spots are a one-game scenario."
Grand Lake climbed out of a 3-2 hole with two runs in the seventh inning and the Mariners bullpen propelled the Mariners to victory.
Dayton broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the seventh inning when Dalton Mosbarger's RBI single drove in Jesse Rait.
Grand Lake responded immediately in the bottom of the seventh. Pete Cuomo led off the inning with an infield single for his third hit of the game before Tyler Gray and Jason Scholl followed with walks to load the bases with no outs.
Dayton replaced Joey Stoll, who walked six, on the mound with Jeffrey Grillot and he proceeded to throw four straight balls to John Brodner for a walk that forced in the game-tying run.
Grillot then threw a ball to Connor Schomig before he was replaced on the mound by Ryan Koopman. Although Koopman struck out Schomig, Brandon Mallder then drew a walk on five pitches to plate the go-ahead run.
"We put some quality at-bats together and worked the count for some walks in big situations. We put the pressure on their pitchers and it paid off for us," said Castle.
Grand Lake's Tyler Jordan replaced starting pitcher Alex Mercer in the fifth inning and Jordan went on to pitch the next 3 1/3 innings before being replaced by J.J. Buckey with one out in the eighth inning. Dayton had runners at first and second with just one out when Kuris Dugan hit a groundball to Brodner at third base. Brodner stepped on third base for the second out and then fired a strike to first base to complete a double play to end the scoring threat.
Rait led off the top of the ninth for Dayton with a single to rightfield and then stole second base before Buckey got two outs. Gerardo Dudamel was then called out of the Grand Lake bullpen and got a fly out to leftfield to end the game for his sixth save of the summer.
Jordan earned the win for Grand Lake after allowing just one run on three hits with two strikeouts.
"Alex Mercer didn't have his stuff tonight and we had to turn to Tyler Jordan earlier than what we usually do. Tyler pitched well when he was out there and kept us in the game," said Castle. "I have a lot of confidence in him and he wants the ball everyday. He is very valuable to our team whether it's to get one or two outs or to throw several innings."
Grand Lake was the only team in the GLSCL without a home run heading into the weekend, but the Mariners found their power stroke against Lexington.
Scholl connected in the first game of Saturday's twinbill before Brodner hit a pair with Tyler Gray adding another in game two.
"We put some good at-bats together. The fences were a little shallow and the wind was blowing out at 20 miles per hour but we put some big swings together and hit a few out," said Castle. "The important thing is that we weren't trying to hit home runs. We just put good swings on the ball and the home runs followed. The guys got really excited and it was nice for me to be able to shake a few hands while coaching third base."
Lexington took a 3-0 lead against Grand Lake's Isaac Beller in the first game but the Mariners responded with three in the third and two in the fourth before adding three more in the fifth to take a commanding 8-3 lead.
The Hustlers pulled to within 8-6 after scoring three in the bottom of the fifth but the Mariners tallied two in the seventh to close out the win.
Beller lasted just 4 1/3 innings and allowed five runs on five hits with four walks but improved to 4-0 after earning the win.
Grand Lake took control of the second game early on after scoring three times in each of the second and third innings. Brodner led off the second frame with a solo homer before Gray and Brodner each connected in the third inning.
Jake Baldwin improved to 2-1 this summer after pitching six strong innings and allowing two runs on four hits with six strikeouts.
The Mariners are back in action again on Tuesday with a road game at last-place Lake Erie. Grand Lake then travels to Xenia for a doubleheader on Wednesday before hosting Southern Ohio for two on Friday.
Current standings in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League.
Team W L Pct. GB
Southern Ohio 22 12 .647 -
Licking County 22 14 .611 1
Cincinnati 21 14 .600 1.5
Lima 18 13 .581 2.5
Grand Lake 18 15 .545 3.5
Dayton 16 18 .471 6
Xenia 15 20 .429 7.5
Hamilton 14 21 .400 8.5
Lexington 14 22 .389 9
Lake Erie 10 21 .323 10.5