By Gary R. Rasberry
Grand Lake was able to run its Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League winning streak to six on Sunday with a 4-3 win over Stark County in the opener of Sunday's rescheduled doubleheader. The streak was snapped, however, in the nightcap as the Terriers snapped their own four-game road losing streak with a 3-2 win at Jim Hoess Field.
The doubleheader was a makeup after thunderstorms washed out Saturday's doubleheader. Sunday's originally scheduled game for Sunday will now be part of a doubleheader this weekend as the Mariners travel to Canton to face the Terriers at Glen Oak High School.
The Mariners (8-3) got their usual dose of solid pitching in the doubleheader, but four errors in the second game, two coming in the all-important seventh, cost the Mariners a chance for the sweep.
"Overall, I was pretty happy, how the weather was and how hot it was, about how we won the first game and battled to the end in the second game," said Mariners skipper Mike Stafford.
Game One Grand Lake went up for good in the second inning when Wayne Bond singled and later scored when Ben Humphrey doubled to the gap allowing the speedy Bond to beat the throw home.
Insurance runs came in the bottom of the fifth as the Mariners plated three runs. Ryan Keena was hit by an Eric Shaffer pitch and Bryan Witt got the sign for the hit-and-run, and was successful, sending Keena to third. Keena was then picked off third when Shaffer faked to first then threw to third for the pickoff. After a balk was called on the next pitch moving Witt to second, Ben Gaal doubled him home to make it 2-0. Kurt Lauscher replaced Gaal at second with an RBI double of his own.
After Bond walked, Zeke Issacs came out of the bullpen for Stark County to try and stop the Mariners, but Humphrey, who was 3-for-3 with two RBI in the game, greeted the pitcher with a single to score Lauscher.
The runs in the fifth proved necessary as Andy Delagarza got into trouble in the sixth after five solid innings of work. Delagarza allowed three straight hits to start the inning, scoring Tom Tucker with a single from Marcus Geiselman.
Stafford called on closer Kevin Marrie to try and get out of the jam. Brandon Caipen grounded out to score Sullivan to make it 4-2. After Mike Golom flied to center, Ronnie Bourquin singled to left. Geiselman scored on the Bourquin single, but Keena made a perfect throw home to Josh Eachues to tag out 6-6, 240-pound Brad Miller to end the threat and the inning. Marrie gave up a hit to Phil Bednar in the seventh, but got a flyout to right and a groundout to third to end the inning.
Delagarza allowed just one walk and six hits through five-plus innings, striking out three along the way to get his first league win.
"We just played good baseball in the first game," said Stafford. "Pitching came up big. After throwing an inning yesterday (the first game Saturday was halted in the bottom of the first), he came back and threw the ball well. Kevin came in and shut the door. The hitters did a pretty good job getting us the lead and the pitchers did a good job shutting them down and holding the lead."
Errors played a part in all of the Terriers' runs in Game 2 as all three runs were unearned. In the third, David Macias led off with a bunt single and Tucker also laid down a bunt and reached safely. Gaal tried to throw out Macias at second, but the ball went into right. Macias later scored on a wild pitch with Tucker scoring on Steve Burnich's sacrifice fly.
After that, Sheridan shut down the Terriers, allowing just one more hit while walking two and striking out four.
The Mariners scrapped their way back, in the bottom of the third. Scott Boley walked to lead off, then moved up on Keena's single. Witt advanced the runners with a groundout before Gaal walked. Josh Dietz singled to score Boley and Keena was waved around, but the relay throw from right got Keena trapped in a rundown that ended with a tagout at third.
The score was tied in the fourth until Jedidiah Stephen took Cameron Betourne's first-pitch offering over the left-centerfield fence for his first home run of the summer.
Both teams did not have many chances to score through six innings, but the Terriers got the run they needed in the seventh. Brandon Caipen led off by grounding to second, but Boley bobbled the ball and could not make a throw. With Ryan Campbell up, catcher Josh Hula tried to pick off Capien, but the throw was wild and into rightfield.
Campbell laid down a bunt to move Caipen to third bringing up Mike Branon, who lofted a fly to mid-right. Bond made the catch and came up throwing home but the throw was up the first-base line, allowing Caipen to score the go-ahead run.
"It just happens in baseball," Stafford said of the errors in the top of the seventh. "The bunt was on and the first baseman was crashing in and (Hula) threw it over the first baseman's head. ... We will get better. He understands that and he will be better and learn."
Pat Gliha came on in the seventh to close things out for Stark County. Dusty Hammond pinch-hit for Boley and singled up the middle. Keena tried to lay down the bunt to move the runner, but was unable to get it down and struck out. Witt grounded hard to second, Macias made the pitch to Burnich for the force but could not get Witt.
Gaal then stepped up and hit a towering shot to left. Geiselman had his back the fence in left and brought the ball down for the final out.
"We didn't take care of the baseball today, and it showed," said Stafford. "That's tough to lose when you know you gave them every run possible for free. It's a hard one to lose, especially as well as the team has played.
"I was proud how the team battled until the last pitch. Dusty came in an got a big pinch-hit. We couldn't get the bunt down and didn't allow ourselves the chance to win the game," added Stafford.
Grand Lake continues its long stretch of games tonight with a road trip to Ohio Wesleyan to play Delaware at 5 p.m. The Mariners return to Jim Hoess Field on Tuesday to play Lake Erie.