ESSEX — Although the Intertown Twilight Baseball League finals was tied at one game a piece entering last night’s pivotal game three at Memorial Field, the Manchester Essex Mariners viewed it as a must win game.
The Mariners did not want to have to go on the road for Saturday’s Game 4 in the Best-of-5 series needing a win to stay alive.
In the end the Mariners took care of business with two big offensive rallies and a gutsy performance on the mound from the seldom used Rory Gentile en route to a 10-6 win at Memorial Field. With the win the Mariners can clinch their second straight ITL title with a win in Sunday’s Game 4 in Rowley (2:00 p.m.). If the Rams win on Saturday there will be a winner take all Game 5 on Sunday in Essex (2:00 p.m.).
“We needed this one tonight because we didn’t want to have to win on the road,” Mariners manager Bryan Lafata said. “We did a good job taking advantage of some mistakes early tonight and Rory gave us the innings we needed out of him.”
The Mariners took command of the game in the first inning touching up Rowley starter Nick Liguori for five runs in the frame.
Trailing 1-0 on a RBI single from Rowley’s Colby Thibault in the top of the frame, it took just one pitch to erase the deficit as Gentile helped out his own cause by taking Liguori deep to tie the score at 1-1.
The Mariners put together some good at bats after that as two bases loaded walks brought in two more runs while a Rusty Tucker RBI single and a Lafata sacrifice fly brought in two more to make it 5-1 Mariners through one.
“The first inning was pretty much the difference,” Rams manager Jeff Wood said. “That team is too good to give them extra chances and they took advantage of them tonight. But there isn’t much I wasn’t happy with, we put some good swings on the ball and battled back, they just had more timely hitting.”