By Gary R. Rasberry
The modest three-game winning streak of the Grand Lake Mariners came to a halt on Tuesday as the Indianapolis Servants scored four times in the top of the first and held off all the Mariners' rally attempts to take a 5-4 win at Jim Hoess Field. Grand Lake falls to 8-7 on the season as the Servants go to 5-8 with the win.
The Mariners' chances were stymied by some strong relief pitching from Indianapolis relievers Dustin Summers and Andrew Jandon, who combined to strike out eight batters over the last 41/3 innings, including some close called strike threes. The called strikeouts did not please the Mariners as Michael Bertram and Jon Hatfield were both tossed after saying something to the home plate umpire. That prompted Mariner skipper Mike Stafford to offer his opinion to the umpire, who promptly asked Stafford to enjoy the rest of the night from outside the fence.
Stafford did not comment directly about the late game fireworks, opting to praise his team for fighting back from the early deficit.
"We got a couple runs early and it was still a ballgame," said Stafford. "I don't think it was the reason we came up short tonight.
"We had two battles tonight: one against the team we played and the other. Our guys played hard. I commend for going down with a fight. We just came up a little short." Mariner starter Aaron Tennyson, who pitched a strong game against Lima last Wednesday, was not as fortunate on Tuesday, The first three Servants singled and scored two runs before Tennyson could get an out. Another two runs came across before the Mariners could get out of the inning. Tennyson threw 36 pitches in the first inning, over a third of his total in seven innings of work against Lima. Tennyson went another two innings, allowing just one more hit before giving way to the bullpen.
"Aaron has been good for us. He's human," said Stafford. "He couldn't get his curve ball over for strikes, but he stayed out there for three innings to give a chance."
The Mariners looked to get back in right away as they stood in for their first at-bat. After Scott Billak walked and Andy Hudak flied out, John Franzese took Justin Adams' 0-1 offering over the left-center fence to cut the lead to 4-2.
The Mariners added another run to cut it to 4-3 in the second when Jeff Warnock scored on an Aaron Bulkley single.
"I couldn't be happier with the way we played," said Stafford. "We hit the ball, scored a couple of runs and hit the ball hard right (Continued from page 1B)
at guys. They made good plays. I think we took the same intensity and approach we had the last couple of games and came up a little short."
The Mariner bullpen allowed just one more run and five hits over the last six innings. Jason Marsik allowed the final Servant run in the fourth before quieting the bats in his two innings. Josh Nice came on in the sixth and fired 2 2/3 innings of three-hit baseball before getting into trouble in the eighth. Jeff Loveys came on and immediately picked off Josh Doane stealing to end the inning. The defense also picked up as Josh Stewart threw out two runners trying to steal late in the game.
After the ejections, the Mariners tried one last rally in the bottom of the ninth. After a strikeout, Warnock singled. Bulkley followed with with another single to put runners on first and second. Billak stepped up and chopped a grounder. A close play at first was ruled an out but moved the runners up for Hudak, who was 2-for-4 coming in. Jandon got the count to 1-2 before getting Hudak to look at another close strike three to end the game.
Bulkley and Franzese joined Hudak with having two hits. Franzese finished with three runs batted in.
The Mariners homestand continues tonight as the Delaware Cows come to Jim Hoess for a 7:15 p.m. game.