ROWLEY-- The Manchester Essex Mariners need just one more win to capture the Intertown Twilight Baseball League championships.
With a 7-0 win in Game 2 of the ITL Finals on Sunday at Eiras Park, the Mariners swept the first two games of the best-of-five finals over the Rowley Rams. Manchester Essex can clinch the league title with a win on Wednesday in Game 3 at Memorial Field in Essex (5:30 p.m.).
Sunday's win came a day after the Mariners picked up a 9-4 win in Game 1 of the series.
"In both games we got an early lead and our pitching and defense took care of the rest," Mariners manager Ryan Marques said. "We played well."
Peter Clark quieted the Rowley bats in Sunday's win, allowing three hits in a complete game shutout. Clark allowed two base runners in only two innings and never allowed a runner to reach third base as he kept the Rams off balance with his fastball and curveball.
Clark mostly pitched to contact and he had great defense behind him, especially in the outfield. Rory Gentile made the defensive play of the game in right center, diving to his left to take extra bases away from Dimitri Hunt, who made solid contact. Charlie Otterbein also flashed some leather as he came off the bench to make a diving catch on a sinking liner off the bat of Joe Esposito in the bottom of the fifth.
"Clark was in control all day, when we make the plays behind him he usually is," Marques said. "Our outfield defense was great, we took away a few extra base hits."
The Mariners took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning and never looked back. The Rams almost got out of the inning with two quick outs, but Kellen Field singled, Adam Philpott drew a walk and Mike Cain and Rusty Tucker were hit by a pitch, the latter scoring Field from third for the first run of the game.
Tucker lined an 0-2 pitch to right scoring Field in the top of the third to make it 2-0, and Clark drew a bases loaded walk to bring in another run to give the Mariners a 3-0 edge.
Manchester Essex continued to extend the lead from there as Field singled in Gentile, who led off with a double, in the fourth and tacked on three more in the top of the seventh on a wild pitch, an Eric Chalmers grounder and a Caulin Rogers single to cap the scoring at 7-0.
The Mariners took a 1-0 series with a 9-4 win in Game 1 on Saturday.
Tucker picked up the win with five shutout innings, he also came back in to finish off the game as Rowley threatened late in the contest. Rogers, Gentile and Philpott all homered in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Rowley, which ended up playing four games in four days over the weekend, now needs to win the final three games of the series to capture the championship. If the Rams can survive on Wednesday, Game 4 will be on Saturday back at Eiras Park (4 p.m.) and Game 5 would be played on Sunday at Memorial Field (4 p.m.).
The Rams put in some overtime in their semifinal victory over the Hamilton Generals. Game 3 was called due to darkness in extra innings on Thursday night, meaning the teams had to start over on Friday night. Rowley won 6-1 and then had to come back and play Game 1 of the finals the very next day.
Staff ace Tim Cashman is expected to pitch on Wednesday for the Rams. The Mariners have yet to determine who will start Game 3.