By Ryan Hines
After watching his team manage just three hits in 14 innings of play on Saturday afternoon, Grand Lake Mariners manager Mike Stafford was left scratching his head.
Columbus came to Jim Hoess Field at Westview Park on Saturday and swept Grand Lake, 1-0 and 4-0 as the Mariners dip below the .500 plateau for the summer.
The All-Americans continue to pace the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League with a 22-7 mark while the Mariners slip to 15-17.
"Offensively we looked like we can't do anything," said Stafford. "We look like we should be playing little league baseball right now. I just don't get it. You have to be out here for 14 innings to play baseball and guys just don't give a crap. It's frustrating as a coach to see that and we definitely got embarrassed for two games today."
The pitching has been there for the Mariners all summer long as the Grand Lake hurlers have posted a 3.39 ERA (third in the league), but it's been the offense that continues to be a problem for the Mariners with a .227 batting average, the worst in the eight-team league. "I don't know if it's an approach thing or if they just don't have a thought process when they go up to the plate in certain counts or if they aren't up there ready to hit, but it's been going on for a couple of weeks now and you would think that we would make an adjustment but we haven't," said Stafford. "I'm trying to find something but I just can't put my finger on it. I'm pretty frustrated with the way that we're playing right now because I know that we can be better than what we are showing. We went 8-2 in our first 10 games and now all of the sudden we are the total opposite.
"Hopefully we can turn it around in the last 11 games of the season and make the playoffs because the way that we're playing right now, I'm not even thinking about the playoffs," continued Stafford. "Right now I'm thinking of the next game and if we can even score. We've done just about everything that you could possibly do to not be successful and give yourself a chance at the plate."
Columbus didn't display much offense either, but what the All-Americans did was hit in clutch situations.
In Game One, the game was locked in a scoreless battle between Grand Lake hurler Ross Liersmann and Columbus' Josh Faiola through the first six innings.
Columbus' Charlie Yarbrough finally broke the scoreless tie in the top of the seventh inning with a solo home run to left-centerfield to provide the All-Americans with the winning margin.
Yarbrough's homer made Faiola a winner on the mound as the righthander allowed just one hit, a bunt single by Bryant Witt in the third inning, while striking out 11 with no walks. Liersmann was the hard-luck loser as he threw all seven innings allowing just four hits with five strikeouts.
"Ross went out there and did what he's supposed to do and he threw as well as their guy, just not with all the strikeouts," said Stafford. "He gave us a great chance to win by keeping us in the game and we just didn't get the job done. There's only so much that Ross can do and he gave us a great start."
In Game Two, the offensive silence continued for the Mariners as they had just two hits and never advanced a runner past second base in the seven frames.
The Mariners, losers of eight of their last nine games, will try and stop the current three-game slide tonight at home when Lake Erie comes calling for a single game with a 7:15 p.m. start in a makeup game.