BEVERLY-- The Manchester Essex Mariners have played themselves into a familiar spot.
With an 11-2 shellacking of the fourth seeded Beverly Giants on Monday at Cooney Field, the top-seeded Mariners swept the best-of-three semifinal series to advance to the Intertown Twilight Baseball League finals for the seventh straight year and the 10th time in the last 11 seasons.
With the win, their 21st in the last 22 games, the Mariners can now rest up for Game 1 of the ITL Finals, which will take place on Saturday at Memorial Field in Essex (4 p.m.). The Mariners will take on the winner of the Rockport Townies and Hamilton General's semifinal series, which began late last night at Evans Field in Rockport.
"It's nice to be able to sweep the series to get some rest before the finals and get the chance to see our opponent in action," said Mariners pitcher Marc Phinney, who did not allow an earned run in six innings of work on Monday night. "Obviously we'd like a rematch (of last year's final) with Rockport but this is baseball, anything can happen and we will be prepared for both teams."
The Mariners came out strong in the top of the first inning and gave Phinney a two-run cushion before he even threw a pitch.
Adam Philpott's one-out single plated Johnny Wilcox (single) and Rory Gentile (error) to make it 2-0 Mariners after one.
Two innings later, the regular season champs essentially put the game away with four more runs. Philpott drove in Caulin Rogers (walk) with a base knock while Peter Clark singled in two more and later scored on an Eric Chalmers grounder to third to make it 6-0 after three.
The Giants plated their only two runs in the third inning on a two-RBI single from Andy Brown, but the Mariners went on to finish the game with five unanswered runs.
Kellen Field got things going with his feet by leading off the top of the fourth with a base hit. He then stole second and third, coming around to score when the throw to third found its way into left field to give the Mariners a 7-2 edge.
Manchester Essex plated four more runs in the sixth on a RBI single from Gentile, a RBI grounder from Philpott and a Clark double.
The support was more than enough for Phinney, who scattered six hits while working both sides of the plate with all of his pitches.
"I thought I pitched pretty well," he said. "I pitched to contact and the defense made the plays behind me. It's always nice to take the mound with a lead in the first inning, it took all the pressure off. We have been playing great baseball lately, in all three phases of the game."

The Mariners took the first game of the series at home on Sunday night by a score of 7-0. Rusty Tucker picked up the win with a 15-strikeout, complete game shutout.