By Gary R. Rasberry
With the chance to get the brooms out for a weekend sweep against Southern Ohio on Sunday, Grand Lake wasted no time.
The Mariners scored four times in the second inning, plenty of runs toward a 7-3 win over the Copperheads to sweep the three-game weekend series at Jim Hoess Field and raise the team's winning streak to four games. The Mariners are now 5-2 in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League and 8-3 overall while the Copperheads fall to 3-5 in the GLSCL.
Mariners head coach Mike Stafford, rejoining the team Sunday after attending a wedding, is happy with the way the team came back after losing consecutive league games on Wednesday and Thursday.
"Saturday, Scott (assistant coach Scott French, who took over the team in Staffords absence) led the team to two, one-run wins. We pitched the ball well (Saturday)," said Stafford. "Today was the same thing."
The Mariners remain a clutch team when it comes to batting. Five of the seven runs, including three of four in the second inning, came with two outs. "What we talked about was that with the guys getting more at-bats, they're getting more comfortable," said Stafford. "We're going to have that more. I think our guys are capable of doing that, one through nine in the lineup."
The scoring started after Kurt Lauscher walked and went to third on a bloop single by Michael Ayala. Kris Moorman got the run in by grounding up the middle. With two outs, Josh Eachues walked to bring up Wayne Bond, who singled. Eachues scored when Copperhead starter Kyle Lindsey uncorked a wild pitch. Bryan Witt singled to put two on for Scott Billak. Billak cleared the bases with a long double to the gap in left center, chasing Lindsey after just 1 2/3 innings.
Meanwhile, Keegan Laycock came up with a solid showing for the Mariners on the mound. The Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne hurler walked three batters and gave up five hits through five innings, but solid defense and seven strikeouts limited the Copperheads to just two runs, one each in the fourth and fifth innings. Southern Ohio had more chances, but left eight runners on through the first five innings and 12 total in the game.
"Keegan didn't have his best stuff today," said Stafford. "He got through and grinded it out through five innings. His fastball wasn't as hard and his breaking ball wasn't as sharp, but he gave us five quality innings and allowed our bullpen to get minimal work."
Marion Local grad Corey Luebke made his debut for the Mariners after pitching for Ohio State through the Big Ten tournament and the NCAA Regional in the spring before taking a vacation. The Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American threw two innings, allowing one hit and one run while walking one and hitting a batter.
"That's the first time he's pitched in three weeks," said Stafford. "He came in and pitched two good innings for us. Not his best, but something to build on for his next start."
The door was closed with an inning each from Jeff Loveys and Kevin Marrie, who struck out the final two batters to end the game.
The big hits came from the bottom part of the lineup. Bond, batting eighth, and Witt in the nine spot combined for a 4-for-7 day with three runs scored. Billak and Dusty Hammond drove home two runs each.
The Mariners will play non-league games Monday with Geneva and Wednesday with Portland, both 8 p.m. starts, before getting back into GLSCL action on Thursday at Shawnee Field against the Lima Locos.
"Right now, this is what I thought we would do," said Stafford of the team's start. "We lost a couple of games and I wanted to see how the guys would respond. They responded pretty well."
NOTES: Loveys will begin to keep a weblog (blog) for the rest of the season on the Grand Lake website. A naming contest will also be held with the deadline for submissions being June 30. The Mariners committee will decide the best name. Entries can be taking by signing the guestbook on the website. For more information, log-on to http://geocities.com/mariners_baseball1990/index.html. ... Longtime Celina High School baseball coach Bruce Boley will get the honors of throwing out the first pitch at Thursday's Mariners game at Lima. The Locos are having area high school baseball coaches throw out the first pitch at games this season. Coach Boley will throw out the first pitch before two of his sons, Scott and Sean, play for the Mariners and Locos respectively. First pitch at Shawnee High School will be 7 p.m.