Friday, July 14th, 2017
Mariners rally for victory
By Gary R. Rasberry
Joe Aeilts had one of three Grand Lake home runs during Thursday's 10-6 win over. . .
CELINA - The eighth inning proved to be a wild one at Montgomery Field.
Grand Lake saw a 6-1 lead evaporate as Richmond tied the game in the top of the eighth, only for the Mariners to score four times in the bottom of the inning to pick up a 10-6 win in Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League play.
The first six innings were the perfect mix of pitching and offense. Braden Niksich allowed a one-out double to Mitch Wilson in the first inning and retired the next 16 batters in a row before allowing a two-out walk to Cole Parks in the top of the sixth.
"It's probably his first start in a year-and-a-half since high school," Mariners skipper Chris O'Neill said. "We're trying to send him back to Illinois State an improved product. He worked hard to earn that spot."
The Mariners tied the game in the second inning before taking the lead in the fourth when Nate Ostmo led off with a solo home run off Jazz pitcher John Troll. The home run parade continued in the fourth when Joe Aeilts led off with a shot to center to highlight a three-run inning as Ostmo and R.J. Williams added RBI singles. Nick Emanuel started off the sixth with a solo shot to make it 6-1.
"We talked last night (Wednesday's win at Lorain County) about our approach at the plate," O'Neill said. "It carried over into tonight. We were more aggressive and got better pitches to hit."
Niksich departed after the sixth after having thrown 94 pitches. Alec Whaley came in to finish up but ran into trouble immediately with a walk to Daniel Sepic followed by a home run by Andrew Czech to cut the Mariner lead to 6-3.
Whaley retired the next three batters to get out of the seventh but started the eighth by giving up a single to Jordan Stacy and a walk to Jack Holden. Parks looked to bunt the runners up a base, but Whaley's throw to second was off the mark and allowed Stacy to score. Parks and Holden then completed a delayed double steal to cut it to 6-5. After Whaley walked Wilson, O'Neill called on Damon Egnor, who got the first out via a fly to center by Sepic, but the out was deep enough to score Parks to tie the game. Egnor retired the next two batters to end the inning.
Ben Nelson came on to pitch for the Jazz in the bottom of the eighth after Alex Meyers had struck out five over two innings. Steven Fitzsimmons led off with a single but was forced out at second on Emanuel's grounder to third. Aeilts singled to put two on for Blake Buckman, who was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Nelson uncorked a wild pitch to bring Emanuel home for the go-ahead run before Jeff Timko singled home Aeilts, but Buckman was thrown out at home. Tucker Linder brought home Timko with a single and then Ostmo drove in Linder with a double.
Egnor closed out the game with three straight outs to pick up the win.
"We just played for one," said O'Neill about the Mariners' strategy going into the bottom of the eighth. "Let everything else take care of itself. That was the approach we took every inning. The guys executed that very well."
Ostmo was 3-for-5 with three RBIs for Grand Lake. Timko and Aeilts each added three hits and two runs scored. Williams and Patrick Raiff added two hits each as Grand Lake collected 16 base hits.
"Every aspect of our offense came through tonight by the way they battled through each inning," O'Neill said.
The Mariners travel to Indiana tonight to complete the home-and-home series with the Jazz before starting a weekend home-and-home at Galion on Saturday before the Mariners and Graders come to Montgomery Field for the final game before the All-Star Break on Sunday.