CELINA — Grand Lake Mariners head coach Mike Goldschmidt says his team understands the sense of urgency needed as it looks to climb out of its last-place positioning and into a Great Lakes Summer College League playoff spot with a late-summer charge.
After a stretch of six losses in seven games and a dwindling number of games to make up the deficit in the standings, Grand Lake hopes its late two-out magic on Monday night is the start of something.
The Mariners scored four times in the bottom of the eighth inning to break open a 7-3 win over the Lake Erie Monarchs at Jim Hoess Field in Celina.
The Mariners scored six of their seven runs on the night after two were out and Dan Marcuzzo homered in a breakout game for the Mariners third baseman.
Every game is nearly must-win situation when down by 7 1-2 games to North Division leader Lima and 3 1-2 games in back of second place, Mariners head coach Mike Goldschmidt said after Monday’s win that moved the Mariners to 10-17 on the summer and snapped a two-game skid.
“That’s what we’re playing for,” Goldschmidt said. “To get ourselves in a position to get into the playoffs.”
After Sunday’s scheduled doubleheader against Lexington was rained out, Goldschmidt said his team needs to get three or four wins this week to keep its playoff hopes alive.
“We were expecting to win both games yesterday and it kind of set up our pitching,” Goldschmidt said. “Honestly, I think we’re playing for second place (in the division). I think that’s got to be our goal to get into the tournament. Yeah, it’s nice to get over this hump. We’re still six or seven games out of first, but we’re only 3 1-2 games out of second place.”
Grand Lake scored four times in the eighth after the first two batters made outs. Mike Coughlin began the two-out rally with a single. Dan Marcuzzo followed with a single and a throwing error advanced both runners into scoring position.
Marcuzzo went 2 for 4 with a home run, an RBI and two runs scored despite just a .190 batting average for the season.
Patrick Duncan singled home to give the Mariners the lead and Mel Skochdople came off the bench to single home two more unearned runs to make it 6-3.
The Mariners’ final run came via a John Bowron two-out RBI single.
“We battled and found a way,” Goldschmidt said. “That’s what we haven’t done. We haven’t had those innings here where we bounce back after a tough inning. It’s nice and refreshing. Hopefully we can propel this into tomorrow, Wednesday.”
Fort Loramie grad and Butler Bulldog pitcher Jordan Goldschmidt worked a scoreless ninth inning.
Mariners starter Brandon Alger’s tough-luck summer continued. The big left-hander threw seven innings of two-run, six-hit baseball, only to watch the Mariners cough up the lead in the top of the eighth inning.
Alger’s earned run average dipped to 2.59, but his record stayed at 1-2 despite averaging nearly seven innings per start with one of the league’s best earned run averages.
“Brandon threw outstanding again,” Goldschmidt said. “I feel bad he doesn’t get the win and he wanted to go back out (in the eighth), but his pitch count was at 85.”
The Mariners’ offense, which is hitting just .226 as a team this summer, got the Indiana Tech southpaw three early runs.
After the Monarchs took a brief 1-0 lead in the top of the third on a Hank LaRue double, Grand Lake responded with two runs in the bottom of the third with a rally that started after the first two batters of the inning were out.
John Bowron singled and stole second. Jack Scanlon tied the game with a single that scored Bowron.
After Andrew Elliott walked, Jason Bagoly singled in Scanlon to put Grand Lake up, 2-1.
The lead stretched to 3-1 in the fourth on a solo home run by Dan Marcuzzo to the right field gap. Marcuzzo’s first home run of the season was a rare show of power for an offense that had hit just five homers heading into the night.
Lake Erie scored single runs in the seventh and eighth to tie the game and assure Alger he wouldn’t be picking up his second win.
Mark Tatera’s two-out RBI hit pulled the Monarchs to within 3-2 in the seventh off Alger.
Mariners reliever Chris Waha came on in the eighth, only to give up the lead on a Pat Hirshburg single that got past first baseman Jason Bagoly and plated Alex Davison.
Waha got the win after Grand Lake rallied in the bottom of the eighth.
Grand Lake hosts Southern Ohio today at 4 p.m. for the first of a doubleheader at Jim Hoess Field at Westview Park in Celina. Lima then comes to town on Wednesday.
The Mariners will throw Patrick Veerkamp and Blake Bottoms in the two games against the Copperheads.