So, this is how it’s going to go ...
After dropping the first game of the Intertown League finals in Essex 3-2 Saturday, the second-seeded Rowley Rams brought the first-seeded Mariners to Eiras Park yesterday for another hard-fought contest that would see the Rams victorious, 6-5.
“We are the top two seeds in the league, it’s been that way most of the year,” said Rams coach Jeff Wood. “This is what I would have expected in a series like this. I’m happy to be a part of it. It’s great baseball. You’re on the edge of your seat the whole time, and that’s what we come down here to play for: a good time.”
Joe White took the ball for Rowley, and the tall left-hander started the day giving up a double to deep left field to Rory Gentile, who then stole third. Collin Rogers scored Gentile next with a sacrifice fly to center. White got the next two batters to pop out to send the Rams to the plate to face righty Ryan Marques.
The Rams’ Justin Bolla started the bottom of the second inning off with a rocket out to deep center off Marques that put him at second base with no outs. Cam D’Agostino sent Bolla to third base with a rocket of his own out to right field then stole second on an overthrow that plated Bolla to tie things up. D’Agostino plated next on a double to center from Drew Carter to give Rowley the 2-1 lead.
The hits kept on coming as Mike White slapped a single to right that scored Carter. A single from Nick Liguori got White caught up at second before Liguori stole second himself. Ingraham then scored Liguori with a single out to center.
The third inning passed without incident before Brett Cahill hit a double off the fence in right with one out in the top of the fourth. White got Mike Cain to pop up next before Ian Buckley dropped a blooper between the mound and first base. Buckley then beat White to the bag to also put Cahill at third before Buckley stole second. Frantti then sent a double out to center to score Cahill and Buckley. A wild pitch moved Frantti to third before Alex Ray tied things up with a single to third that Frantti beat to the plate.
Right hander Adam Newell came in for the Rams in the top of the fifth inning, and Nate Bertolino drew a walk off him to start things off then stole second. Cahill grounded to first to send Bertolino to third before Mike Cain sent a sacrifice fly to center that jumped the Mariners up one.
CJ Ingraham started the bottom of the fifth with a single then stole second and made it home on a double from Dmitri Hunt to tie things again.
Carter sent a single up the middle in the beginning of the bottom of the sixth then moved to second on a groundout from Marco Luisi. One batter later, Joe Esposito drew a walk before Ingraham sent the ball to third, where an error by Collin Rogers gave the Rams the lead again and see Adam Philpot taking over for Marques.
Joe Martin closed out the game for the Rams 1-2-3 in the seventh to tie the series one apiece.
“Rowley has always played tough,” said Mariners player/coach Nate Bertolino. “They’ve got a bunch of young kids together that play well, along with (Wood) as the ringleader over there. That’s what I expect every year. I thought we played well. But mental errors killed us and psychical errors. It’s going to happen. It’s late in the season. But it’s baseball, you’ve got to play through it.”
With the best-of-five series tied at one, Wood knows his players have to keep reaching deep down the rest of the way.
“They are a great baseball team,” Wood said of the Mariners. “They are not going to give us anything. And with young players, you worry about whether or not we can answer the bell. We built a 4-1 lead, and we lost that lead. We came back. They came back, we came back and we won the game. That’s the kind of stuff that we’re going to need to do if we’re going to be able to win this series. We have got to be able to overcome some adversity and fight back a bit.”