7 July 2006

Mariners putting pieces together

After enduring a four-game skid that knocked them into last place in the Eastern Division, the Harwich Mariners bounced back to take their last two, thanks to some new faces and solid pitching.

Harwich first baseman Johnny Giavotella (New Orleans) gets the putout of former Chatham player and Barnstable native Rich Tri during Harwich’s 4-2 win June 27.

Tony Watson (Nebraska) gave the Mariners a much-needed boost Monday against Brewster, notching his league-high third win of the season as they defeated Harwich native Cody Crowell and the Brewster Whitecaps 5-1. 

Watson pitched seven strong innings, giving up just one earned run on three hits to earn the victory and end the four-game slide. 

With his 0.90 ERA in 20 innings, Watson is still in the top 10 in pitching, giving up only two earned runs in his three starts. 

Crowell pitched well, giving up three earned runs on five hits in seven innings. He has an ERA of 3.57 in four games this year. 

The Mariners made it two in a row Tuesday thanks to some timely hitting and bad defense on the part of the Falmouth Commodores, as they cruised to a 9-3 win. Falmouth had its hands full, committing three errors that eventually led to five unearned Mariner runs. 

With the victory, Harwich pulled itself out of last place in the division at 7-9 and 14 points, just ahead of 7-10 Y-D. 

Harwich reliever Jason Hessler (St. Joseph’s) earned the victory after pitching four scoreless innings in relief of starter Arshwin Asjes of Temple. 

In five appearances, Hessler has a 1-1 record with an ERA of 1.42. Meanwhile, Asjes is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in five appearances. Both were temporary players, and both have been released. 

University of North Carolina arrivals Chad Flack and Josh Horton both played well in their debuts, with each picking up an RBI. 

The new bats were a much-needed boast to the Harwich lineup. After a 4-2 win over division rival Chatham June 27, Harwich dropped four in a row, including a close 2-1 loss in Orleans Sunday night. 

"Right now, we’re just not getting the key hits when the time comes," said Mariners’ skipper Steve Englert after the loss to Orleans. "We just need to stay positive. The breaks will start going our way; it’s just a matter of time. Our bats have cooled a little, but these are talented kids and I think they’ll start to come around." 

Antone DeJesus of the University of Kentucky leads the team with a .326 average, good for seventh in the league and also boasts the league’s second-best on-base percentage at .500 in 13 games. He also leads the team with 10 walks. 

"We’ve been losing some close games, but this team has some talented players on it, so we’ll be fine. Our goal now is just to string some victories together," said Mariners catcher Devin Thomas of Brown Sunday. 

Thomas is in his second year as a Cape League player after playing for Cotuit last year. 

"The goal for this team is to keep fighting," he said. "We’ve had a bad time lately, but we know we’re not that far out of it." 

Thomas is batting .227, but is third on the team is on-base percentage, something he attributes to being in the league last year. 

"I had a much better idea of how good the pitching was going to be entering the season, so I’ve made a few adjustments in my approach," he said. 

The Mariners’ starting pitching has been better than expected, posting a not-so-stellar 7-9 record, but still ranked fifth in the league with a 2.94 ERA. 

Harwich starter Johnny Dorn (Nebraska) had an impressive start against Orleans Sunday night, giving up only three hits through eight innings, but a seventh-inning home run by Orleans’ Danny Valencia spoiled an otherwise solid performance. 

In a similar performance, Harwich starter Dan Merklinger of Seton Hall struck out 10 batters in the Mariners’ 2-0 loss to Cotuit Friday night. Merklinger seemed to be cruising along, allowing only four hits and no runs, but was pulled after the sixth. 

Harwich will have a tough road ahead, as four of its next five games will be away from home, including tonight, July 7, in Chatham and tomorrow night in Orleans. They rely on the arms of Merklinger tonight and P.J. Zocchi (Clemson) tomorrow. 


By Matt Rice