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Mariner edges Island Coast 2-1 in rain-shortened contest to win district baseball title

Both squads open regional play Wednesday

May 13, 2019
By CJ HADDAD (cjhaddad@breezenewspapers.com) , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

As much as the weather in Southwest Florida has tried to put a damper on district games around the region, Mother Nature could not deny Mariner's baseball team back-to-back District 6A-11 titles, as the Tritons defeated Island Coast 2-1 Friday in a rain-shortened affair.

This was the first time Mariner secured a district crown on its home field in 20 years.

"Well, that's not the way we want to win it (in 5 innings)," said Mariner Head Coach Tom Woodley. "We were on the other side of this last year in the regional semis, and we went home. So, I kind of know how they feel and it's frustrating. They're a good team."

Article Photos

MICHAEL PISTELLA / mpistella@breezenewspapers.com

Mariner senior Jimmy Meredith and the Tritons picked up a district championship Friday and tonight will take on Lely in a regional quarterfinal game. To view more photos from the district championship game, see the Cape Coral Breeze Facebook page.

The two schools attempted to avoid the impeding rain by starting the game a half hour early, though play was suspended in the bottom of the fifth with Mariner (23-4) at bat.

After two hours of torrential downpours and lighting strikes, it was decided that the field would be unplayable, even if the rain subsided. The game had progressed enough to become official, with a Mariner victory in 4 1/2 innings.

Island Coast (19-8) opened the scoring in the top of the third when Chase Chatman reached on an error and came around to score on a single by Mason Schwiezer, who went 3-for-3 on the day.

Mariner answered right back in the bottom half of the inning, as Xzavien Torres scorched a leadoff double to left center and eventually scored on an Island Coast throwing error with two outs.

A Gavin Walker single followed by a Louis Alberro walk loaded the bases for the Tritons. Gators starting pitcher Justin Bethke then plunked Anthony Bautista to force in what would be the eventual winning run.

Walker did hit a towering homer that cleared the fence in left-center for a solo shot in the bottom of the fifth, but that blast would be wiped out on the score sheet due to the rain, as the game reverts back to the last full half-inning played.

"We made plays today when we had to. The guys have been playing hard all year. They've been resilient. They definitely have earned it," said Woodley. "They made a good run. They've committed to it this year -- the seniors especially. It just puts a damper on it to win it this way, that's all, no pun intended."

Alberro, coming off his walk-off single that paved the way for the Mariner to reach the district championship game, took the ball for the Tritons and pitched well over four innings of work, earning the win. The senior allowed four hits and one run (zero earned) while striking out three and walking one.

Junior Alex Freeland tossed one inning of scoreless relief to hold the Gators in check before the rains came.

"He's been solid for us most of the year," said Woodley of Alberro. "Today, he competed when he needed to. When they had runners on base, he induced a fly ball when he had to, a ground ball when he had to -- he's been there for us. He's competed all year long and that's all we can ask of him."

Bethke threw 2.2 innings for Island Coast before Jackson Campbell came on in relief. Bethke allowed three hits and 2 runs (zero earned) while walking two and striking out two.

"I thought Justin Bethke threw the ball very well early and that error kind of made him loose his groove a little bit after that. He threw the ball really well and gave us a chance," Gators' head coach Clinton Montgomery said.

"It's tough because it is such a close game, but, we had the big error there that led to the two runs and I didn't feel like we handled that very well," Montgomery continued. "Our emotions kind of changed in the dugout and stuff like that. If we're going to make a run next week, we're going to have to learn how to handle adversity a little better than what we showed tonight."

Woodley said no matter the opponent, the message to his team stays the same.

"We've just got to play a complete ballgame," he said. "We don't really focus on an opponent. If we can just go out and play a clean, complete ballgame, our guys can compete with anybody."

Island Coast will play Barron Collier on the road Wednesday at 7 p.m.

Mariner will host Lely at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

Both games are regional openers.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj

 
 
 

 

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