HARWICH – For much of the 2019 Cape League season, the Harwich Mariners fought to climb out of what's known as the basement. Now, with wins against Chatham and the Y-D Red Sox, the Mariners are poised for a place in the championship.
After clawing their way into playoff position with a commanding victory against Brewster in their last regular season game, the Mariners kicked off the playoffs with a 1-0 win against Chatham at Veterans Field on Aug. 2. The lone run of the game came in the sixth inning when Hal Hughes made it home on a sacrifice fly hit by Chris Galland.
But the real story from Game 1 of the first round of divisional playoffs was the pitching between the two teams, with Harwich hurlers Connor McCullough and Joe Boyle combining forces for 11 strikeouts, no hits, and only three walks all game.
While Chatham's bullpen was also impressive, with Daniel Federman allowing just two hits across five innings, a wild pitch from Austin Vernon was all the Mariners needed to get a run across, a run that earned them the W in the end.
The following night found the two teams at Whitehouse Field in Harwich where the Mariners once again went to work, this time pushing four runs across the plate in the second inning. After Niko Kavadas reached on a walk Cory Acton batted into a fly ball to center that was easily caught by Chatham outfielder Cooper Davis for out No. 1.
Next up was Joey Wiemer, Jr., who sent Kavadas to second with a single to left, before another single to left from Sean Harrington loaded the bases. A single from Riley Tirotta brought in Kavadas and Wiemer for the Mariners' first two runs, with a single from Dylan Neuse bringing in Harrington and Tirotta to give Harwich a 4-0 edge.
Chatham's Jorge Arenas scored Chatham's first run in the eighth, and a homer from Kaden Polcovich in the ninth added a second, but solid pitching from Harwich closer Connor Sechler shut the door on any chance of an Angler rally, sending Harwich on to the next round.
After a night off thanks to continued game play in the West Division, the Mariners shuffled over to South Yarmouth on Monday night to face the Y-D Red Sox, who had swept the Orleans Firebirds to advance.
After the Sox took a 1-0 lead in the first, Harwich fans were anxious about the impending outcome of the game. Thankfully, the Mariner bats lit up late as Harwich scored two runs in the fifth and another three in the seventh to claim victory.
An error by Y-D third baseman Riley King allowed Wiemer to reach first at the start of the fifth inning, with a walk from Kavadas moving Wiemer along. He scored on what should have been a sac bunt from Christian Fedko that turned into a run for Harwich thanks to a bobbled ball. A sac fly from Hughes brought in Kavadas two batters later, giving Harwich a one-run lead before Y-D pitcher John Beller brought the inning to a close.
The scoring continued in the top of the seventh, led off by a nice homer from Harwich catcher Patrick Winkel, giving the Mariners a little cushion, with an error late in the frame allowing Neuse and Acton to race home, putting Harwich up 5-1.
From there it was all up to closer Will Heflin, who handily earned the save for his three innings of work, during which he had one strikeout while allowing just two hits. Carson Seymour earned the win in four innings with two strikeouts and six hits.
At bat, Neuse went 1-for-4 with a run, as did Wiemer and Acton, while Winkel went 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI.
At press time on Tuesday, the Mariners were set to host the Red Sox at Whitehouse Field, but Mother Nature had other plans and the next game was rescheduled to Wednesday, Aug. 7 at 6:30 p.m.