Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mariners take series lead with bizarre win

Mariners take series lead with bizarre win

By Nick Curcuru
Staff Writer

ESSEX — Nothing is ever normal when the Manchester Mariners play the Rockport Townies according to Mariners catcher/manager Bryan Lafata.

The two teams have dueled numerous times in the past and as Lafata put it, "it's always interesting."

Yesterday's third game of the best-of-five Intertown League Baseball championship at Memorial Field in Essex was no different. The Townies looked to be in control after right fielder Brock Currier hit a two-run home run in the top of the sixth inning to give Rockport a 7-6 lead.

The Mariners, however, would get the last laugh in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out and the bases loaded, Manchester designated hitter Rick Bettencourt hit a hard ground ball down the third base line that looked to be heading into the left field corner for extra bases. Townies third basemen Mike Bertolino made a full extension diving stab and threw home, but the throw hit base runner Nate Bertolino, who led off the inning with a walk, in the back allowing him to score and tie the score at 7-7. After a strikeout, No. 9 hitter Alex Ray came to the plate. The second basemen, who is entering his junior year in high school this fall, ended up being hit with a pitch which allowed Mike Cain to score to make it 8-7.

Cain's run ended up being the game-winner as the umpires then called the game due to darkness. Following the final play the Townies vehemently argued as they believed Ray intentionally moved his body into the ball.

It was a bizarre end to a game that featured five lead changes and three ties.

"It's always interesting when these two teams play," Lafata said. "Tonight was an another example of that. Just an unbelievable game. Both teams could have laid down several times in the game but we both kept fighting back."

With the win the Mariners take a 2-1 series lead and are just one win away from their second straight ITL championship. To top it all off Manchester will send ace Mike Gibbon to the hill in Game 4 on Saturday (2 p.m., Rockport).

Lafata, however, cautions that Rockport is always tough to beat on its home field.

"They always come to play at home," Lafata said. "That's why tonight's win was so big. We need to come with the same approach that we did tonight. No matter who is on the mound for us or how good our bats have been. Rockport will give us a fight."

The Townies started off the game like gang busters scoring three runs in the top of the first inning thanks to the first three hitters, Tom Robertson, Chris Bouchie and Brent Currier started the game with three straight hits.

Brent Currier gave the Townies a 2-0 lead when he singled up the middle, plating Robertson (single) and Bouchie (double). Four batters later Brent Currier came in to score on a bases loaded walk.

The Mariners would get on the board and take the lead with four runs of their own in the bottom of the second inning. Brett Cahill made it 3-1 when his double of the wall in right field scored Bettencourt who reached on an error. Three batters later, leadoff hitter Rory Gentile singled to left-center field, scoring Cahill to make it 3-2. The very next batter, Lafata, singled up the middle scoring Gentile and Ray who reached on a walk.

Manchester's lead would be short-lived as the Townies tied the score up in the next half inning when Mike Anderson doubled to the gap in right-center field, scoring Dan Greel who reached on a fielder's choice.

The very next inning the Townies took the lead on a bases loaded walk, only to see the Mariners answer back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth on a Joe Orlando two-RBI single to make it 6-5 Mariners.

The score stayed that way until the sixth when Brock Currier gave the Townies the lead. The left-handed hitter went with an outside pitch and ripped it over the high left field fence.

"This was just an amazing game," Lafata said. "Brock's home run was just a great piece of hitting, it takes a good piece to hit the ball out to left field here and hit it opposite field."

Gentile, Orlando, Cahill and Ray powered the Mariners offense with two hits each, while Bertolino reached base four times without recording a hit (3 walks and an error). For the Townies, Bouchie and Brock Currier each had three hits.