Red Sox 7, Mariners 2: After upsetting the second-seeded Orleans Firebirds two games to one in the first round, the third-seeded Y-D Red Sox were back at it Sunday night, beating the top-seeded Harwich Mariners on the road at Whitehouse Field. The win gives the Sox a 1-0 lead in the East Division championship series with a chance to sweep at home Monday afternoon and move on in the Cape Cod Baseball League playoffs, presented by Rockford Trust.
The Mariners, who easily swept the Brewster Whitecaps 2-0 in the first round, looked as if they would keep on rolling when they loaded the bases with three straight singles in the first inning and then scored a run on a sacrifice fly to take an early 1-0 lead. But they could only manage the one run, and it was a sign of things to come for Harwich.
Red Sox starter Michael Murray (FGCU) retired the next 11 Mariners in order after they scored their first run. Overall, he held Harwich to just two runs on six hits in seven strong innings. The only other run against him came on back-to-back groundball outs following a leadoff double for Kenny Towns (Virginia) in the fifth.
Meanwhile, the Y-D offense started to light up Murray’s counterpart, Harwich starter Robby Kalaf (Florida International), in the third when Andrew Stevenson (LSU) hit a three-run homer to go up 3-1 and hand the Red Sox a lead they would never give up. The onslaught continued in the fourth with back-to-back bases loaded RBI singles, one from Stevenson and the other from A.J. Simcox (Tennessee), increasing the lead to 5-1. A botched double play allowed two more runs to score and make it 7-1. The Sox chased Kalaf after just 3 1/3 tough innings.
The remainder of the game was simply a pitcher’s duel, as Harwich’s Jonathan Frebis (Middle Tennessee St.) did his best to keep the deficit from increasing, while Murray and his relief, Dmitri Kourtis (Mercer), tried to keep the Mariners from climbing back into the game. Both sides succeeded, as Frebis was outstanding, allowing just three hits in 5 2/3 scoreless innings and retiring the final 10 batters he faced, but to no avail, as Murray finished his strong outing and then Kourtis gave up just one hit in the final two innings.
Stevenson was the star of the game with the home run and four RBIs, but it was also a big night for Nico Giarratano (San Francisco), who not only was 2-for-3 with two runs, but also flashed the glove on several occasions. It was full team effort for the Y-D squad, as nearly everyone played a part at the plate and everyone was excellent in the field.
The same cannot be said for Harwich, which was unusually quiet on offense. Only Anthony Hermelyn (Oklahoma) had multiple hits. Joe McCarthy (Virginia) and Ian Happ (Cincinnati), who were on fire in the first round, were completely held at bay in Game 1. The pair was No. 1 and No. 2 in the playoffs in slugging (.900 and .889, respectively) coming into the game, while McCarthy led the postseason in batting (.700) and Happ led in RBIs (4), but against the Red Sox pitching, the two were held to just two singles combined in eight total at-bats.