Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mariners 5 Rams 4, Gloucester, MA

July 23, 2014

Mariners edge Rams in late-season showdown

By Nick Curcuru
Sports Editor
---- — ESSEX-- Tuesday’s Intertown League baseball tilt between the Manchester Essex Mariners and the Rowley Rams sported a playoff-like atmosphere.
The Rams and Mariners have ruled the ITL over the last half decade and this season has been no different with Rowley sitting atop the league standings and Manchester Essex sitting right behind them in second.
“I’d be lying if I said this was just another game,” Rams manager Jeff Wood said. “Both teams have been at the top of the league for the last few years and both teams had a full bench tonight. It’s always fun when we play the Mariners and you can throw the records out the window because it’s going to be close.”
The potential ITL finals preview lived up to the hype on Tuesday but in the end a fifth inning three-run homer from Mariners first baseman Nate Bertolino was the difference in a 5-4 Mariners win.
Rowley remains in first place despite the loss at 16-3, Manchester Essex moves to within two games of its rival at 14-5. Each team has four games remaining on its schedule.
The league titans will meet again tonight at Erias Park (5:45 p.m.)
“It’s always a big win if it’s against Rowley,” Mariners manager Bryan Lafata said. “If they take care of business they should still have first place locked down, but I thought both teams played pretty good baseball.”
The Rams had a 4-2 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth inning when the Mariners bats came alive.
Alex Ray led off the frame with a single off of Rowley starter Tim Moore, who had retired nine Mariners in a row heading into the fifth, and after a two-out walk from Rory Gentile, Bertolino came to the plate and put a fly ball over the left field fence just inside the foul pole to turn a two-run Mariners deficit into a 5-4 lead.
“(Moore) was pitching well and was rolling at the time,” Lafata said. “He didn’t strike too many of us out but he pitched to contact and his defense made the plays behind him. Luckily, big Nate was able to get his hands through the zone on that pitch and put it over the fence for a home run. There were a few hard hit balls that were knocked down by the wind today but he had enough strength to get it over.”
Rowley threatened to tie the game in the seventh when pinch hitter Joe White led off the inning with a double off of Mariners starter Rory Gentile, who went the distance for the win.
White was moved to third on a sacrifice bunt, but Gentile was able to get the next two hitters on a grounder right at a drawn in Max Nesbit at second base and a grounder to Caulin Rogers at shortstop to end the contest. Rowley nearly tied the game with two outs in the inning when CJ Ingraham lined one down the left field line, but his shot fell inches foul just in front of the left field fence.
“Gentile just battled all night,” Wood said. “I have no problem with the way we played and I have no problem tipping my cap to the Mariners, they deserved the win. This loss doesn’t cripple us and we will be back tonight.”
Rowley took a 2-0 first inning lead on a two-run error on a grounder to third in the top of the first inning. Manchester Essex, however, answered right back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the inning on an RBI single from Mike Cain scoring Rogers, who reached on an error and moved up to second on an error, and an RBI grounder from Peter Clark scoring Cain.
Rowley got the lead back in the second when Cam D’Agostino scored on an Anthony Conte grounder, and added an insurance run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly from Tim Cashman scoring Conte before Bertolino delivered the decisive homer in the bottom of the fifth.