Thursday, August 14, 2008

Manchester/Essex maintains edge

Manchester/Essex maintains edge

By Dom Nicastro / Correspondent

Hamilton-Wenham -

Both teams are playing good defense. Both are getting solid pitching. And there are some clutch hits on both sides.

The difference in the Intertown League baseball finals so far? Manchester/Essex is slightly better in each of those departments. And that’s why the Mariners lead the best-of-five series, 2-0, with the chance to wrap things up Wednesday night in Essex.

Manchester/Essex owns 4-2 and 4-3 victories. Both games, it shut down last-inning rallies thanks to closing efforts by Mike Cain.

By Staff photographer Mark Teiwes. Hamilton second baseman Justin Tilley and his team have been pushed to the brink of elimination in the ITL finals.

“We're getting most runs via the home run right now, which is great,” said Tom Jones, Hamilton’s player/manager. “But we are going to have to be able to start manufacturing some runs in order to pull out some wins. We can't be dependent on the long ball.”

Jered Stewart and Jim Maloney have been playing well for Hamilton. Maloney had a solo homer and Stewart a two-run homer to pace the Generals’ offense in Game 2.

Bryan Lafata, Manchester/Essex’s player/manager, said his team’s defense has been the difference.

“It’s been tremendous, one of the best I’ve seen,” said the 17-year player. “We’re not hitting a ton.”

Jones agreed.

“They have executed the little plays better than we have,” he said. “If we tighten those things up, we'll have a good chance going forward.”

Down 0-2, Jones said the pressure moves to the Mariners, who have at least three chances to close it out.

“Basically I think at this point all the pressure is on them to close it out,” Jones said. “We are at our most dangerous right now, backs against the wall with nothing to lose. I feel our guys will have the right attitude going into Wednesday’s game. We will be loose and ready to play. Our team has not changed its mindset all season. We have fun and enjoy playing ball with one another. I don't expect that to change. Anything is possible when you take it one game at a time.”