ESSEX-- Ryan Marques was certainly laboring a bit in Game 3 of the ITL baseball finals against Ipswich Wednesday.
The Manchester Essex right hander was pitching on just three days rest after being the tough luck loser in his team’s 2-1 loss in Game 1 of the series and was facing an Ipswich lineup that can wear out the best of pitchers in the league.
Marques, however, dug down deep and made several big pitches in big spots allowing just a single unearned run in six innings pitched in the Mariners 7-1 win at Memorial Field in Essex. Marques worked around multiple errors and a couple of walks allowing four hits while striking out six and forcing the Chiefs to leave 10 men on base in the victory.
With the win the Mariners take a 2-1 lead in the best of five series and can clinch their fourth title in the last five years with a win in Game 4 Saturday in Ipswich (2:00 p.m.). An Ipswich win on Saturday means the teams will be right back at it for Game 5 on Sunday at Essex (2:00 p.m.).
“Marques came up huge for us tonight,” Mariners catcher Bryan Lafata said. “He came out on three days rest and you could tell he was tired. He really only had one long inning but he slowed his pace up and got through it. He made a lot of big pitches in big situations.”
The turning point of the game came in the third inning where both teams had prime scoring opportunities and one team took advantage of them.
Manchester Essex held a 1-0 lead but nearly imploded making three errors in the inning. Marques, however, worked around the errors and a pair of walks in the frame allowing just a single run in an inning that could have been much worse.
Manchester Essex then followed up with three runs of its own thanks to some sloppy play from Ipswich. Caulin Rogers led off the frame with a bloop triple that got past a diving Ipswich right fielder, he was driven in one batter later on a Rusty Tucker single. Nate Bertolino singled in Tucker two batters later then came in to score on a Mike Cain double. A fielding error from Ipswich allowed a third run to score in the inning giving the Mariners a 4-1 lead.
“The third inning was huge for us,” Lafata said. “We made a few mistakes in the top half but then got some key outs to get in without too much damage. In the bottom half we strung together some timely hits. That’s what these games come down to, who takes advantage of their opportunities and we did tonight.”
The Mariners opened things up with another run in the fourth on a Tucker RBI single and two more in the fifth, both unearned that scored on fielding errors. The game was called after the top of the sixth inning due to darkness.
Tucker, Bertolino and Ian Buckley powered the Mariners offense with a pair of hits each. Greg Doucette led the Chiefs by reaching base
in all three at bats with a hit an
The Mariners now turn their attention to Saturday’s Game 4, and they have every reason to be confident as staff ace Tucker will be on the mound. The south paw will be pitching on full rest and coming off of a start where he struck out 19 in game two’s complete game shutout.
Lafata, however, says the team needs to come out aggressive with its ace on the hill.
“We can’t hang back and relax the way some teams have a tendency to do with their ace on the mound,” he said. “We have to come out aggressive and get him an early lead. We have been in this spot before so we know what needs to be done, we just have
to go out Saturday and execute.”