The Mariners youth section made the annual trip to the Cork Druids Blitz held on Saturday 5th June in Blarney, Co. Cork. A large contingent of players and parents travelled down to sample the hospitality of the Muskerry Arms Hotel and to enjoy a day of baseball. On both counts it was an enjoyable and successful trip!
The Mariners got the Blitz going with a game against the host Cork Druids – a team in a development phase after several strong years under the guidance of dedicated coaches Jason and Michelle Murphy. They are clearly on the right track as 18 Druids players warmed up on the sideline awaiting the opening pitch.
Cork were the home team and the Mariners took a full quota of six runs in their first at-bat. Brian Coronella pitched very well, shutting out the Druids with accurate pitching aided by smart fielding plays including a neat scoop and throw by shortstop Andrew Aling to first baseman Matt McCann for an efficient put-out. Second baseman Jonathan Howell also contributed with some slick fielding of his own, and with the current combo the Mariners can count on a solid middle infield for a couple of years to come.
With this confident start, the Mariners notched another six runs in the second inning, including a courageous steal of home by left fielder Pawel Krysa. The trend for the game was set with the Druids finding the Mariners pitching too hot to handle and all the Mariners batters connecting for solid base hits and finishing with a flourish courtesy of a huge home run by catcher Ryan Turner.
Result: Mariners 18, Druids 0.
Our second game against the Clare Dolphins was a different kettle of fish (sorry – couldn’t resist…and yes I know they’re mammals). The Mariners were the home team and Matt McCann took the mound against the formidable new outfit from Clare. In the first inning the Dolphins quickly showed that they were a physically mature hitting side, with a lead-off base hit followed by a home run, resulting in two runs coming across. The Clare side looked ready to rack up a big inning. But with two outs and the bases loaded, Mariners hurler Matt McCann had other ideas. He knuckled down and forced the Dolphins clean-up batter into a pop-up well snagged by catcher Ryan Turner to leave three runners stranded.
The Mariners then came to bat but didn’t really get going against an experienced pitcher ‘guesting’ for the Dolphins and came away with no runs. At the start of the second, the Dolphins again flexed their bats and got runners on base. The coaching staff decided on a tactical change and brought Brian Coronella back to the mound. Fortunately, he still seemed to have some gas in the tank and went on to strike out the two most dangerous batters in the Clare line-up. To finish the inning, catcher Ryan Turner threw down to third baseman Conor Rubaclava to catch a Clare runner attempting to poach an extra base.
In the bottom on the second inning the Mariners hitters scrambled to bring home one run, setting the stage for a tight finish.
In the top of the third, the Mariners shut down the Dolphins, and in their half of the inning managed to tie the score, 2-2, with some clutch hitting and base-running.
Brian Coronella shut down Clare again in the top of the fourth, striking out the side. The Mariners now needed (literally) to ‘step up to the plate’, especially as the Dolphins brought back their main pitcher. The Mariners didn’t disappoint. David Kabele waited out the Dolphins ace hurler and was rewarded with a walk. He then stole second. The stage was set for a dramatic finish. Jami Turner matched his brother’s earlier hitting heroics with a superb line drive into center field to bring David home with the winning run – as sweet a “walk-off” victory as any in Mariners Little League history.
Result: Mariners 3, Clare 2.
In the Final the Mariners again played Cork, who had earlier beaten the up-and-coming Oranmore Jays. Confidence was high after the Mariners thrilling come-from-behind win over the Clare Dolphins and it showed in the first inning with two big home runs from Dylan Kelly and Matt McCann to help bring in six runs.
After two stellar stints behind the plate, Ryan Turner peeled off his catcher’s gear and took the mound. He faced a pesky Cork line-up – the strike zone for some of their younger batters was very hard to locate – but Ryan performed well, with just four runs given up in two innings. After the Mariners posted another six runs (including two audacious steals of home) in the bottom half of the second, the game was called as the time limit had elapsed.
Result: Mariners 12, Cork 4.
In a closing ceremony distinguished by a lot of smiling faces, the Mariners squad were presented with their Winners Plaques and went home happy after another great blitz organized by our great friends the Cork Druids! Now we can look forward to our Home Blitz at Mariners Field on Saturday 19th June!
Greystones Mariners: Andrew Aling, Brian Coronella, Matt McCann, Jonathan Howell, Dylan Kelly, David Kabele, Pawel Krysa, Conor Rubaclava, Jami Turner, Ryan Turner.
Six of the Greystones Mariners Cadets (13-16yrs) were also in Cork this weekend and got to play in a friendly double-header against the Kerry Green Sox as part of combined team that included players from Cork and Athlone. The Mariners have not had a Cadet team compete for the last couple of years and so opportunities like this for the Mariner players to get some playing time are valued greatly.
Baseball is of course all about pitching, and while the pitchers here struggled occasionally with control, it was the quality of the hitting from both teams that most impressed this weekend. At times the pitchers can only have been impressed as balls whizzed pass them or were hit high over their heads and on a couple of occasions nearly out-of-sight. Of course, outs were recorded and innings were completed, but not before there were several doubles, triples and a homerun to admire. There were some great plays in the field also, including a double play and a fantastic catch by a Kerry pitcher on the hardest hit ball of the day that came right back at him in a hurry. And not to be too down on the pitchers, there were several strikeouts during the course of the games. In the end the series was split a game apiece, which was not only a fair reflection on the day but also meant everyone went home happy.
Carraig Byrne, James Carr, Daniel Daly-Roynane, Jack Farrell, Katie Glynn,
Graham Murphy, Michael Murphy, Rory Nichols, Mark Treacy, Aidan ??, Derek ??.
Thanks to Andrei and Elaine from Kerry for changing their plans and making it a fun day of baseball all round. A big thanks of course to our hosts, Michelle and Jason Murphy, whose dedication, hard work and laughter, provide us with easily the most fun event on the baseball calendar. And to all our parents who consistently support the players and coaches and add greatly to the enjoyment of the weekend.