By Marc Tobias
After surrendering a 2-1 lead to Delaware in the top of the ninth inning, Grand Lake was able to fight back with two runs in the bottom half of the ninth inning to bring home an exciting 4-3 win in Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League baseball action at Jim Hoess Field.
With the bases loaded in the top of the ninth, Delaware tied the game at two when Mariners shortstop Jon Hatfield was unable to field Kurt Eichorn's grounder cleanly allowing Brandon Williams to score from third.
The Cows then went up 3-2 when Jeff Loveys saw his first pitch of the game hit Aaron Hauser on the forearm to plate Keanon Simon.
Loveys retired the next batter to get out of the inning, but the damage had already been done as the Cows took a one-run lead into the bottom half of the inning.
Kris Moorman started the Mariners side of the ninth with his second double of the game to put the potential tying run in scoring position. "Kris Moorman lit the whole thing up with a double in the gap, and after he hit that double, I knew we had a great chance to win the ball game," said Mariners coach Mike Stafford. "He stepped up and drilled the first or second pitch in the gap and that set the tempo for the ninth inning."
Dusty Hammond then walked, and Hatfield laid a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line. Hauser, the Delaware first basemen fielded the ball cleanly and looked to try and get the lead runner at third, but he hesitated and instead chose to go to first base. The indecision may have cost him, because Hauser's throw to first was an errant one that went into rightfield allowing Moorman to score and Hammond to move all the way to third.
"When you put pressure on the defense and make them make plays, things happen in this league," Stafford said. "It's all about small ball, a national style baseball and executing plays, and when they made a few mistakes, we took advantage."
Seth Kuwik then took the mound for the Cows, and proceeded to intentionally walk Scott Billak who hit a solo home run in the third inning.
With the bases now loaded and no outs, the Cows brought their infield in on the grass in an attempt to cut the lead runner at the plate.
Grand Lake lead-off man Billy Grace hit a grounder to second basemen Galen Schumm, but his throw home was well off line allowing Hammond to score the game's winning run.
"It's great for the momentum for the team, and it makes the team think they're never out of a game," Stafford said of the comeback win. "You go into a game with a good team like Delaware and you play hard with them for nine innings and you're down to the last inning with three at-bats; it's a good testament for them to come back and fight."
Loveys picked up the win for Grand Lake while James Rose took the loss for Delaware.
Before the exciting finish, there was a heckuva pitchers duel taking place. Grand Lake's Evan Smith threw seven great innings of one-run ball in which he allowed just five hits while striking out five and walking one batter.
Meanwhile, Delaware's Adam Dunn threw seven innings of two-run ball in which he allowed six hits while striking out two with one walk issued.
"Evan's been doing a great job for us, he was a true freshman this year at Kent and they're really high on the kid," Stafford said. "He has a good demeanor out there on the mound, he throws strikes and makes all the hitters earn what they get."
Grand Lake has the weekend off and will return to action Monday when it hosts Columbus in a 7:15 p.m. start at Jim Hoess Field.
NOTE: The Mariners would also like to alert area fans to a newly created website. The site is in its initial stages, but currently includes the Mariners roster and will feature a schedule and a look behind the scenes of Mariners baseball.
The new address is www.geocities.com/mariners_baseball1990/index.html and is up and running. Anyone with questions or that may spot problems can email Lyle Kittle at email@example.com or send a letter to the Daily Standard. Sponsors are also encouraged to send color logos to the above email address so that they may be added to the site.