By Ryan Hines
SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP -- The Grand Lake Mariners entered the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League tournament as the sixth seed, but ever since the postseason tournament began, they've done nothing but make life miserable for the teams that finished ahead of them in the regular-season standings.
The Mariners continue to surprise the naysayers, knocking off Lima 6-3 on the Locos' home field in the winner's bracket final of the GLSCL tournament on Friday afternoon.
Grand Lake will now play for the GLSCL title today at 4 p.m. against the same Lima team, with the Locos having to beat the Mariners twice to claim the championship trophy.
"This team set out a couple of weeks ago to win this tournament and they're playing like a team that's hungry to accomplish that goal," said Grand Lake manager Scott French. "We played well last year in the postseason and ran out of pitching, but this year we're playing well and we have plenty of pitching left."
Lima, the second seed in the tourney, is the latest victim for Grand Lake, which has now beaten Columbus (top-seeded team) and Southern Ohio (fifth seed) to reach the title game. The Locos dominated play against Grand Lake in the regular season winning five of six meetings, but the Mariners have beaten Lima the past three postseason meetings, which is all that matters to French. "We would rather win this time of year than a month and a half ago and there's no doubt about it," pointed out French. "We would like to have beaten them more often than we did during the regular season, but it didn't work out like that this year. We've been fortunate to play well against them in the tournament the past two years."
Grand Lake righty Brian Rumple kept the Lima bats silent for seven shutout innings to pick up the victory on the mound. The last1Ú3 of an inning that Rumple pitched during his 71Ú3 inning outing, Lima scored three runs, one earned, prompting French to make a pitching change.
Rumple left the game in the eighth with two runners in scoring position and Ryan Kruszke was unable to get out of the Grand Lake jam as a pair of RBI fielder's choices broke the shutout and the second Mariners (Continued from page 8)
error of the inning allowed another run to score making it a two-run game at 5-3.
Kruszke got the final two outs of the eighth before Grand Lake made it a three-run lead on a Adam Abraham RBI double in the bottom half of the inning. Kyle Heyne then came on for the ninth and slammed the door, 1-2-3, for the Mariners to notch his second save of the tourney.
Before Rumple's struggles in the eighth inning, the Western Michigan product was brilliant on the mound.
"My hats off to Brian Rumple," stated French. "He was on today out there, had all his pitches working and he kept them off-balanced for the first seven innings. He got ahead in the count, kept the ball low and got a lot of groundball outs (nine) and kept them out on their front foot."
"It feels really good to be out on the mound when all of my pitches are working and that's what happened out there for me today," said Rumple. "I got good defense behind me and our hitting came around to score a few runs so it was a strong game by our team all the way around."
The Mariners made sure that Rumple's strong start didn't get wasted by scoring two runs in the third, three in the fourth and the single run in the eighth while collecting 12 hits along the way.
Derek Martin, who also played Gold Glove-worthy defense at third base, laced four hits, scored two runs and added an RBI during his five at-bats, while Abraham blasted three hits, which included a pair of doubles and two RBI.
Dock Doyle was also a strong offensive contributor as well with two hits and three RBI while leadoff man Kevin Cislo walked twice, scored two runs and added a double.
"We really brought our bats today and hat good at-bats in the process," noted French. "We left a lot of guys on base (12 stranded) or we could have scored double-digit runs, but we swung the bats real well."
Martin had an RBI single and Doyle added an RBI sacrifice fly to account for the first two Mariners runs in the third inning while Abraham drew a bases-loaded walk and Doyle struck again with a two-run single in the fourth to put Grand Lake out in front 5-0.
Travis Jones and Jacob Robbins, Lima's first two hitters in the batting order, each had two hits to pace the Locos.
Dan Barker was tagged with the loss lasting just 31Ú3 innings allowing five hits and four runs.
NOTES -- French will not be the acting manager for today's title game with the first-year skipper traveling to Long Beach, Calif. for the Area Code Games which attracts the top 200 amateur baseball players from the around the nation. With French as an assistant coach in California, Grand Lake will be led by C.J. Webb, who was the assistant coach for the Mariners throughout the summer. ... Grand Lake's win over Lima marked the seventh straight game that the home team won a tourney game at the Shawnee Field bracket of the GLSCL tourney. ... Celina native Sean Boley was 0-for-4 while catching the entire game for the Locos.