By Nick Curcuru
---- — The Manchester Essex Mariners have been an Intertown Twilight Baseball League dynasty in every sense of the word over the last six years.
On Saturday, the Mariners added some more hardware to their already crowded trophy case with a 6-3, championship clinching win over Rowley Saturday on the road at Eiras Park. With the win the Mariners have now won two straight and five out of the last six ITL championships. The Mariners also avenged a 2011 ITL finals loss to the Rams, who are the only team to have bested the Mariners in the last six seasons.
The Mariners took home the ITL title in dramatic fashion on Saturday, fitting for a series that has gone down to the wire in almost every game. Trailing 3-2 in the bottom of the sixth inning Manchester Essex pulled ahead scoring four runs in the frame.
Centerfielder Rory Gentile, who picked up a win in Game 3 on the mound, delivered what turned out to be the game winning hit in the form of a two-out, bases clearing three-run double in the pivotal sixth inning. Gentile’s double scored Mike Cain, Ian Buckley with what ended up being the winning run, and Max Nesbit. Caulin Rogers drove in Gentile one batter later for another insurance run and the Mariners closed the door in the sixth and seventh to preserve the win.
Rusty Tucker picked up the win on the mound, his second win of the series as he also won a hotly contested Game 1. The former San Diego Padres and Boston Red Sox farm hand used his signature fastball to keep Rowley’s high powered offense at bay.
Saturday’s win caps off a highly competitive ITL Championship series and the young Rams were right there in every game and proved that they will be a dangerous team in the ITL for years to come.
The Mariners took Game 1 3-2 in dramatic fashion with another late rally as they were trailing 2-1 heading into the sixth inning. A Cain home run tied the score at 2-2 and Rogers sent the Mariners home with a walk-off win in the seventh with a RBI single.
The next day Rowley pulled even with a tight 6-5 win at Eiras Park. Rowley trailed heading into the sixth in that game but scored a pair of runs in what turned out to be its last at bat to even the series at 1-1.
The Mariners, however, would take control three nights later in Game 3 with a 10-6 win. A five-run first inning gave the Mariners a comfortable lead, a lead that would balloon to 10-2 before Rowley predictably staged a late rally to cut the score to 10-6.