8 Jun 2022
Mariners Bs V Mariners Vikings
It was perfect conditions for one of the most anticipated games of the season as Co-MVPs for last year's Pefect Season Bs faced off against each other.
The Vikings were created as the second Mariners club team in the B-League and just like the wild west, the Bs were not big big enough for the both of them and James Kelly made the decision to move to the new team to be their Starting Pitcher. Personally for James, that decision has worked out well and with the added innings he has been given many opportunities to pitch with the As. One Closing outing in particular comes to mind where he took the final 4-outs with 3 Ks. But the decision did create a chain reaction of events leading all the way to today. This 7-inning contest was marked very early on the Mariners' calendar.
Both Matt 'Lights Out' Dutton and 'Big Mo' James Kelly were focal points of the batting lineups, both are star Outfielders and both were Starting on the mound for the game today. It meant they were in the unique position of having to pitch to eachother. Dust was kicking up from around home plate. Some loose grass was grabbed by the wind and swept across the pitch. The big hand of the umpire's watch was seconds away from hitting top of the hour. Who would come out on top? Who would take first blood? Who would get to their six-shooter first?!...LET'S PLAY BALL!
It was the 1st inning when Big Mo stepped to the plate for the beginning of their meetings that evening. It was a good first contest which James won. A solid single with his bat and when pitching to Dutton, making 'Lights Out' ground out to him for a 1-3 play. He had won this early battle.
However, the Mariners Bs went ahead in the war when Joaquin 'J-Rod' Rodriguez crossed the plate on an uncharacteristic wild pitch from Big Mo. J-Rod was quick to pounch and had his foot on to score before Vikings Catcher, Sam Marcus, had time to turn and throw. Bs were up 1-0.
After that, it became the pitcher's dual that everyone expected. Forget hits, even walks were hard to come by for both sides. Everyone knuckled down and focused at the plate but the Vikings did come out the better of the two in those stingy middle innings and set it up for a grandstand finish. Top of the 6th, Vikings were ahead 5-4.
The turning point of the game was when Big Mo hit his pitching limit. He was required to be relieved and could now only affect the game with his bat and legs if he got on base. The Bs team plan had given them a chance with one left in the chamber. Collectively, the team worked well trying to make each at bat as long as possible regardless of the outcome. One person to mention on this was Jason Wall. Although his personal stats were 3-strikeouts, one of those at bats went into double figures and really helped the team.
The experienced club veteran and Vikings manager, Gareth Donnally, was the man to take over from James who finished his great outing with 7 strikeouts. 'G' was well aware of the situation he was coming in to and knew he had the skills and calmness required to protect the lead and bring it home for the save although, maybe one inning earlier than he had expected. We hope the young Kelly can take this forward with him as a compliment with the Bs respecting his talents to this level and take this though the great playing career he has ahead of him.
The Bs knew that it was now or never and also knew that it was not going to be easy against Gareth. He has a tough combination of pitches and can hit the corners with a very smooth action that he has honed for over a decade. Game on.
The focus in all of the Bs batter's changed. They found the next gear and started gaining momentum. A Single from McCannon followed by an RBI Double from 'Moustache' Mike put enough pressure to allow J-Rod to get on base due to an error from second base. He then used some very smart base running to get himself in position to cross the plate from second on a Lights Out ground out. Singles from Matt 'JUDGE' Green and Alex 'Taz' Capraru allowed Dan Hawtree and Ben Sullivan to bring each of them home on respective at-bats. Bs now lead 9-5. It was a great offensive performance from tight pitching where G was painting the corners but the Vikings now know they are going to the plate for their last chance to keep the game alive and at worst, send it to extra innings.
What was different for the Vikings was that they were chasing a lead for the first time in a clutch situation and they were trying to do it against a team that were confident closing it out. One area of strength, which was shown many times during the run to the title last year, is having two championship caliber Closers. The man the Vikings were facing was the one who closed out the Final for that perfect season...Taz! The sidearm action and array of putches was too much for the Vikings to try and overcome and as Taz did so many times last year, finished the game on his terms. Final score, Mariners win 9-5 and hand the Vikings their first loss of the season. Like the '78 Miami Dolphins, the Mariners perfect season holds for another year.
The Vikings had hoped that the game would have gone along the same lines as their real life, namesake counterparts during medival England when they decimated armies and took over kingdoms with the whisper of their names. Unfortunately for them, it was more like the Battle of Clontarf. Like Brian Boru did centries ago, the Bs fought hard with everyrhing, stood their ground and successfully defended their home.
Notable performances came from Matt 'McCannon', Dan Hawtree, Lights Out Dutton and The Romanian Devil, Taz Capararu.
McCannon had another great game behind the plate and added 2-hits and an RBI with the bat. Hawtree had 1.000 OBP with 2-walks, 2-hits and an ribbie. Matt Dutton had a great game with ball in hand to hold the Vikings offensive and added to the score with a clutch RBI in the 6th. But MVP has to go to to Alex Capararu. In the last 3 innings when we needed it, he had 3-hits, an RBI and shut the door for the win from the mound. A massive clutch performance that gave the required energy the Bs were looking for.
Taking everything into account, it was a great game of baseball and the umpire said it was the "...best game he had seen or even been a part of..." this season so far. There were three errors in the entire game which goes to show you the standard that was played. It was a memorable, historic and proud moment for the three-decade Mariners.
Next game for the Mariners is a match up with the winless Spartans Bs. Another proud club and the Mariners will be going in not taking anything for granted. That one will be on Saturday, June 18, which is an historic day in the US, Juneteenth. We hope all who are celebrating have a great day!