Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Mariners hold off Townies, 7-5

Mariners hold off Townies, 7-5 (From Gloucester Times)

By Nick Curcuru

ROCKPORT — It's a one game season now.

That's what Manchester Mariners third baseman and manager Bryan Lafata said after his team's 7-5 victory over Rockport in game two of their Inter-Town League playoff series. The Mariners win tied the best-of-three series at one, forcing a do or die situation for both teams in tomorrow's decisive game three in Essex (5:30 p.m., Memorial Field).

"It all comes down to Thursday," Lafata said. "Our bats came out today and we got great pitching and defense. We need more of that (tomorrow)."

Manchester appeared to be cruising to an easy victory with a 7-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh when the Townies mounted a furious comeback. Rockport plated four runs on six hits, and even had the potential tying run in scoring position. Mariners pitcher Mike Gibbon was able to force a fly out to end the game.

Despite the loss, the Townies built up a little confidence from their near rally.

"It was almost a great comeback," Rockport left fielder Tom Robertson said. "That last inning gives us some confidence heading into game three. We are great playing from behind but we fell just short tonight. But that's why we play three games."

The Mariners got on the board first with a run in the first inning when Joe Orlando singled in Rory Gentile who reached on a single. Rockport, however, would come right back with a run of their own in the bottom half of the inning when Mike Anderson came in to score on a fielding error.

Rockport loaded the bases with nobody out in the inning, but Gibbon was able to pitch out of the jam allowing just one unearned run. The tall lefty kept the momentum going the rest of the game allowing only one more hit in the next five innings and retiring 11 straight Townies at one point.

Manchester would take control of the game with a run in the third and fourth inning. They gave themselves an even bigger cushion with three more runs in the sixth. Whit Graham gave Manchester a 4-1 lead when he drove in Ty Haskell (who singled) with a sacrifice fly.

Nate Bertolino increased the lead to 6-1 later in the inning when he singled in Ian Buckley who reached on an error and Mike Cain who singled. The Mariners would add one more important run in the seventh on a Kyle Hildebrand homer.

The Mariners had four players with two hits and three players (Orlando, Bertolino and Graham) with two runs batted in.

Lafata was very pleased with the team's 12 hit performance.

"The bats really came out tonight," Lafata said. "Our team is built around pitching and defense, which was good as usual, but any time we score a lot of runs we are in good shape."

Robertson on the other hand is hoping the Townies will get their offense going a little earlier in game three.

"We didn't show up until the end tonight," Robertson said. "If we want to win we need to score more runs early in the game. We have a great offense and if anybody can get it done we can."