Mariners Clinch Playoffs With Victory

Grand Lake's Blake Buckman scoops a ground ball to first baseman Tucker Linder in a Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League game against Galion on Thursday.
Sports Editor

Thursday night was Déjà vu.

On Tuesday, the Grand Lake Mariners trailed heading into the home half of the eighth inning, but used a leadoff triple to begin their two-run rally for a 3-2 victory, moving them one step closer to another postseason berth.
Thursday was eerily similar, except this time, the Mariners’ rally netted them a spot in the playoffs.

Tied at 4-4 after Galion scored the tying run in the visiting half of the eighth frame, Joe Aeilts led the bottom of the inning with a triple when Galion center fielder Brady Hettinger lost the ball in the lights, allowing the Mariners’ All-Star to scamper to third base.

One pitch later, Blake Buckman skied the ball to right field, scoring Aeilts for the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly.

Damon Egnor then came on for a perfect inning and a playoff-clinching save in a 5-4 Central Division showdown.

“It was good to get Joe back there in for our last inning,” said Mariners coach Chris O’Neill. “He did a great job all game and for him to get player of the game is very fitting. He is our biggest offensive player on the team and he is a great player.”

The win awards the Mariners with their fifth straight postseason appearance and eliminates Galion and Licking County from contention.

As for Aeilts – who player catcher on Thursday – he scored twice and drove in three runs on a three-run homer in the fourth inning to give Grand Lake a 4-2 lead. The Champaign Ill. native has a seven-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 contests.

“He is a heck of an athlete and he has exceeded every expectation that we have had for him,” “I knew he was going to be a great player, but for him to be doing everything he is doing and to be a consistent player, I think that is important.”

A full story on Grand Lake's win can be found in Friday's print edition of The Evening Leader.