9 August 2006

Mariners return to dry dock for the winter

Quietly, and with little fanfare, the Harwich Mariners ended their summer season Sunday, failing to reach the Cape Cod League playoffs and stretching their championship drought to 20 years. 

With a 11-5 loss to Brewster in the finale, Harwich finished its season with a 20-24 record (40 points), putting the Mariners eight games behind division winner Y-D (56 points) and in last place in the Eastern Division. Harwich has finished last three of the last four years. 

A pair of four-game losing streaks in the middle of the season proved to be too much to overcome, as the Mariners were plagued by inconsistent play all season, including numerous one-run losses and some questionable defense. 

Harwich was 4-6 in one-run games, including back-to-back loses to Brewster and Orleans in consecutive nights. They also had the second-worst defense in the league, committing 65 errors. Only Wareham, with 66, was worse. 

As a team, Harwich was fifth in the league in batting with a .230 average and also fifth in pitching with a 3.14 ERA. 

"Talent-wise, this team was just as good as any other team in this league. We just didnít get the breaks and had too many one-run losses," said slugger Josh Donaldson, one of the few bright spots for the Mariners this season. 

Donaldson, starting catcher for the Mariners, finished the season batting .302, good for fifth in the league, while hitting four home runs and driving in 21. He was also second in the league in extra-base hits (15) and third in doubles (11). 

After his solid season on the Cape, Donaldson is hoping to bring some of that success back to Auburn, where he will be a junior this fall. 

"I really want to continue the approach that I built this summer," he said. "Getting better defensively is always something I look to do and just basically have a good year." 

Donaldson was named starting catcher for the East in this yearís All-Star Game. He also participated in the home run hitting contest, where he lost to Mitch Moreland of Bourne. 

Antone DeJesus (Kentucky) and left-handed pitchers Tony Watson (Nebraska) and Dan Merklinger (Seton Hall) were also named all-stars 

Merklinger led the Harwich pitchers, as his 4-1 record and 1.21 ERA put him at the top for lefty starters and fourth overall in the league in pitching. 

In 44 2/3 innings, Merklinger allowed only six earned runs. He also struck out 47 while issuing only 21 walks, and didnít give up a home run. 

Watson was right behind Merklinger with a 5-2 record and 2.44 ERA. He allowed only 10 walks on the season while striking out 46. He didnít pitch in the All-Star game because he was scheduled to start the next game. 

DeJesus finished his campaign batting .234 with an on-base percentage of .383. 


Matt Rice/ mrice@cnc.com