HARWICH ─ The Hyannis Harbor Hawks had five hits, the Harwich Mariners four, but within those four hits were just enough runs that the home team needed to eke out a 2-1 win as the end of the regular season fast approaches.
It helped that the Mariners had the pitching prowess of stellar southpaw Packy Naughton to fall back on. The West Roxbury native pitched seven solid innings for Harwich, allowing just three hits and one run, with eight strikeouts.
The game began with what was nearly a 1-2-3 opening, but was interrupted by a home run from Hyannis's Zach Rutherford. It would turn out to be the Harbor Hawks' only run of the game. Once Naughton let the run slide, he and his teammates clipped the Hawks' wings, holding them scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Meanwhile, Harwich also struck in the first inning, with Ernie Clement seizing several opportunities, blazing around the bases to steal second, then claim third thanks to a wild pitch before racing home on a passed ball to tie the game.
It was Clement who brought in his team's second run of the game, which ended up being the winning run, when his single to left brought in Jonathan India, giving Harwich a 2-1 edge in the bottom of the third that they'd hold on to until game's end.
From there it was a duel, with Naughton taking his skills to the seventh inning before stepping off the field to rousing applause. Reliever Brad Bass came in for the eighth, allowing no hits and no runs, while Nick Brown earned the save in the ninth, allowing two hits and no runs with one strikeout.
At bat, India went 1-for-4 with a run, while Clement earned all the bragging rights, going 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI, all wrapped up in his impressive trip around the bases in the first inning.
“It was a great bounce back game for us,” said Harwich manager Steve Englert. “That was a grinder win. We got outstanding pitching from Packy, and the bullpen did their job again.”
Sitting atop the East Division, the Mariners have earned a spot in the playoffs, and at press time were slated to travel to Brewster before wrapping up the regular season with a home game, also against the Whitecaps.
The playoffs begin tomorrow (Aug. 5). For details, visit capecodbaseball.org or follow Kat Szmit on Twitter @ChroniKat.