14 July 2006

Manic Mariners go hot and cold

The roller-coaster ride that is the Harwich Mariners season took another downward dip this week, as the team came off a four-game winning streak only to drop its next four games, two of them in extra innings. 

Harwich starting pitcher Dan Merklinger of Seton Hall pitched well against Chatham on Friday night, giving up only two runs on three hits. Merklinger has a 1.66 ERA in 21 2/3 innings. 
(Merrily Lunsford photo)

The Mariners record stands at 9-13 as of Thursday, good for fourth place in the Eastern Division ahead of Chatham. 

"We’ve had a few tough breaks lately. We’ve had some games that we should have won get away from us in the late innings," said Mariners manager Steve Englert after watching his team lose its third straight game, a 6-2 loss against Y-D on the road Monday night. "Sometimes, teams go through things like this. I think our biggest problem is that we’re swinging at some bad pitches." 

Continuing their trend, the Mariners dropped their fourth straight, this time a 7-2 loss to Hyannis on Tuesday night. . 

After a four-game slide, which put them in last place, the Mariners got a much-needed boast in the offensive department with back-to-back wins against Falmouth, 9-3 July 4 and 11-6 July 6. Harwich pounded out 24 hits during those two wins. 

They followed those impressive wins with a 4-2 victory over the struggling Chatham A’s in extra innings on Friday night, thanks to a two-run bomb by Josh Donaldson of Auburn in the top of the 11th. 

Starter Dan Merklinger (Seton Hall) had a good night, scattering three hits over five-plus innings while giving up only two earned runs. Merklinger has a 1.66 ERA in his four starts. 

Reliever Dan McDonald of Seton Hall picked up his second win of the season, pitching two innings of relief. 

Playing their third road game in a row last Saturday night, the Mariners ran into a trio of good Orleans pitchers as they connected for only five hits in a 2-1 loss to the Cardinals in 11 innings. The Mariners appeared on the verge of key win over Brewster on Saturday. Up 7-3 in the ninth, Harwich relievers Joel Brookens (North Carolina State) and McDonald couldn’t get the job done, combining to give up four runs on three hits in the inning. 

After the Whitecaps pushed across a lone run in the top of the 12th, the Mariners appeared to have a chance to again tie the score, but failed to drive in Chad Flack of North Carolina, who was left in scoring position after getting to second with only one out. 

"Playing that many extra-inning games in a row can take a toll on the guys in the bullpen. They seemed to be a little tired," Englert said. "But that’s something you have to expect in this league." 

Englert noted that this has been somewhat of a week of transition for the Harwich players and coaches as they adjusted to the College World Series and Team USA arrivals. 

"It’s tough, because you build a relationship with the guys who are here and when they leave and others arrive, it takes some time to reestablish that chemistry," he said. "But this is a good team, and I think they’re capable of reeling off five or six games in a row." 

By Matt Rice/ mrice@cnc.com