HARWICH ─ When you've got nothing to lose as the end of the Cape League season nears, it's good to have a little fun, which is just what the Harwich Mariners did this past weekend, though the team member having the most fun was probably Nick Dalesandro who started Sunday's game on the mound, and won it at the plate.
Dalesandro, who spent the majority of his summer behind the catcher's mask for the Mariners, stepped into a new role with the team on Sunday night: pitcher. He did a darned fine job at it, too, lasting four innings in the outing with two strikeouts and no runs allowed.
Interestingly, the game turned into a duel between the friendly rivals, with both teams going scoreless until the fifth inning when the Mariners posted the game's first run courtesy of, you guessed it, Dalesandro.
After Cam Simmons reached first on a single and Antoine Duplantis drew the first out on a fly ball to center, Dalesandro stepped up and swung into a double to score Simmons, who'd stolen second at the start of Dalesandro's at-bat. Dalesandro himself reached third and was raring to race home, but the Anglers thwarted that effort, leaving Dalesandro stranded.
Two more scoreless innings passed before another run came in, this time from the Anglers in the top of the eighth. Mason Koppens reached on a walk, with Jake Palomaki batting into a fielder's choice that saw Koppen get nabbed. Josh Shaw earned out No. 2 when he struck out swinging, but a single from Josh Stowers allowed Palomaki to reach third, while forcing a pitching change from Harwich in which Cole Aker subbed for Tim Herrin.
Herrin ended up walking his first batter, Shea Langeliers, loading the bases and setting things up nicely for Jeremy Peña who battled through three balls and a foul to a walk that brought Palomaki home to tie up the game.
Fireworks ensued in the bottom of the frame when Chatham's Nick Patten hauled in a throw from shortstop Peña, putting a tag on Harwich runner Jonathan India that the first base ump missed, deeming India safe. A quick discussion with fellow officials reversed the call, much to the chagrin of Harwich manager Steve Englert, who was subsequently ejected from the game for defending India.
After a quick ninth inning that failed to break the tie, the teams then flew through a scoreless 10th. Then came the bottom of the 11th and Nick Dalesandro. With two outs on the scoreboard, Antoine Duplantis hit a mighty double to put himself in scoring position as Dalesandro stepped to the plate, his game-ending single sending his team into a joyous frenzy in which they doused him with water and chased him around the outfield in celebration.
It was the second night in a row the Mariners had nipped the Anglers after earning a 4-3 extra-inning victory the previous night in Chatham. Harwich hopped out to a strong start when Duplantis scored on an India sac fly in the first, with the Anglers responding when Nick Patten scored in the second, with Cody Robers racing home on a wild pitch to make it 2-1.
The Anglers extended their lead in the fourth when Cody Roberts scored on a Palomaki putout, but the Mariners answered back in the sixth when Cobie Vance scored Andrew Moritz before tying the game in the eighth when Vance struck again and scored Duplantis.
A scoreless ninth sent the game into extra innings, with Jake McCarthy bringing in the winning run when he scored on an error by Chatham catcher Roberts. Harwich closing pitcher clinched the win and earned the save in the bottom of the frame when he forced a foul fly out from Peña, another out from Stowers, and a final fly out from Patten.
Harwich was slated to play its last home game of the season last night (Wednesday), while Chatham is prepping for the postseason, which starts on Saturday (Aug. 5). For game information visit capecodbaseball.org.