26 July 2006

Mariners are down, but not out

With the playoffs now seemingly out of reach for the Harwich Mariners - at 13-17, they are 14 points behind the second-place team in the Eastern Division, 19-13 Brewster, as of Monday -- the team can still play spoiler. 

Although they are last in the East, the Mariners have refused to go quietly in the night, scoring victories in two of their last three games, the latest in dramatic fashion. 

With Falmouth desperately seeking every point it can muster trying to stay in the Western Division playoff race, Harwich starter Dan Merklinger (Seton Hall) shut the door on the Commodores July 21, pitching seven strong innings and giving up just one unearned run on four hits with eight strikeouts in a 4-1 win. 

Josh Donaldson (Auburn) put the game out of reach with a two-run shot over the left-field fence for his fourth home run of the year. 

One of the bright spots on the Mariners this season, Donaldson is third in the league with a .324 average, tied for first in doubles (nine), second in extra-base hits (13) and third in slugging percentage (.519). 

Josh Ellis (Wake Forest) and Damon Sublett (Wichita State) each pitched a scoreless inning to preserve the win for Merklinger, now 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA. 

After a broken pipe at Whitehouse Field in Harwich forced the postponement of the Mariners’ game against Orleans on Sunday, the Mariners came away with a late-inning win against Hyannis Monday. 

An inning after watching their one-run lead evaporate, the Mariners mounted their own comeback in the top of the ninth. 

Antone DeJesus (Kentucky) led the inning off with a single to left and reached second after a sacrifice bunt from Sergio Miranda (Virginia Commonwealth). Following a Donaldson single, the Mariners had men on the corners with only one out, and Josh Horton (North Carolina) grounded into a fielder’s choice to the first baseman, driving in DeJesus to make the score 4-3. 

Sublett pitched a perfect ninth to earn his third save of the season. 

In between the victories, the Mariners gave up six runs in the final two innings to turn what was a close game into a 7-1 blowout by Cotuit on Saturday. 

Harwich’s lone run came in the third inning, when Devin Thomas (Brown) singled in Brandon Menchaca of Delaware, who had singled and then stolen second and third. 

By Matt Rice/ mrice@cnc.com