That’s right people…Baseball. Is. Back! With Spring Training finished, all that is left is Opening Day for the Mariners as they begin their campaign to win back the National Title. First up, is a rematch of last season’s final against the Ashbourne Giants. The Mariners, of course, looking to get one back on the Giants and send an early message to the rest of the league.
The Mariners line-up had a fresh look with some new faces and old ones in new places. Dan Sweatland takes up a new role at 3rd Base while Jarad Ratner fills the hole at Shortstop for his first game for Mariners. Other debutants are Andrew Croft at DH and Darren Tighe behind the plate as Catcher. All three rookies would go on to have very good performances and seamlessly slot into the set-up.
There were plenty of cobwebs to get rid of as the first runs were not put on the board until the 3rd inning. Ashbourne’s first three hitters got on base with the cherry on top being 3-RBIs scored off two Doubles to right-centre and left-centre respectively.
However, the Mariners fought right back with two runs of their own. After getting himself on Base for the 2nd time in as many at-bats, Sweatland pounced on an error from the Giants’ Shortstop to score from second. Rookie Tighe then brought home Daniel Woodburne on a Sacrifice-fly to straight left-field. End of the 3rd and it was 3-2 to the Giants.
The neutral viewer got their money’s worth in the middle innings as a run scoring chess match was created. Giants holding onto the lead while the hosts were trying to make something happen, so they didn’t have too much to do at the end. Que the 6th inning and undoubtedly, the hit of the day!
‘Doc’ Eric Kelly came to the plate in a clutch bottom of the 6th, 2-out situation. Ahead by 1-run and both teams knew the game was in the balance with two-men in scoring position. The first two pitches were taken for balls and put massive pressure on the pitcher. ‘Doc’ knows that although there is space at 1st, the pitcher can’t load them up with the top of the order to come. The next pitch…CRACK! His diagnosis was on point and it was crushed to right-centre for a 2-RBI Triple. An incredible hit which put the Mariners into a lead they would not relinquish. Three more in the 7th and the final score, Mariners win 10-5.
Pitching was managed evenly between Jamie Cuevas and Daniel Woodburne with five and four innings respectively. Jamie can be very pleased with the start as he let his experience shine and only allow 2 further hits after an expensive inning. Woodburne then came in with a multiple-pitch arsenal that kept the Giants’ hitters guessing. But together, it was a great team, pitching performance with both of them in a Strike Rate of over 60%. It is always hard for a line-up to get anything going when the zone is being attacked that hard.
Next up the Mariners travel to Corkagh Park to face the Spartans. It will be an interesting match up that sees ex-Mariner, Tommy Hernandez, face his old team for the first time since joining forces with his brother.
Text: Ben Sullivan.
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