Mariners Clinch Playoffs With Victory

Grand Lake's Blake Buckman scoops a ground ball to first baseman Tucker Linder in a Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League game against Galion on Thursday.
By: 
JAKE DOWLING
Sports Editor

Thursday night was Déjà vu.

On Tuesday, the Grand Lake Mariners trailed heading into the home half of the eighth inning, but used a leadoff triple to begin their two-run rally for a 3-2 victory, moving them one step closer to another postseason berth.
Thursday was eerily similar, except this time, the Mariners’ rally netted them a spot in the playoffs.

Tied at 4-4 after Galion scored the tying run in the visiting half of the eighth frame, Joe Aeilts led the bottom of the inning with a triple when Galion center fielder Brady Hettinger lost the ball in the lights, allowing the Mariners’ All-Star to scamper to third base.

One pitch later, Blake Buckman skied the ball to right field, scoring Aeilts for the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly.

Damon Egnor then came on for a perfect inning and a playoff-clinching save in a 5-4 Central Division showdown.

“It was good to get Joe back there in for our last inning,” said Mariners coach Chris O’Neill. “He did a great job all game and for him to get player of the game is very fitting. He is our biggest offensive player on the team and he is a great player.”

The win awards the Mariners with their fifth straight postseason appearance and eliminates Galion and Licking County from contention.

As for Aeilts – who player catcher on Thursday – he scored twice and drove in three runs on a three-run homer in the fourth inning to give Grand Lake a 4-2 lead. The Champaign Ill. native has a seven-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 contests.

“He is a heck of an athlete and he has exceeded every expectation that we have had for him,” “I knew he was going to be a great player, but for him to be doing everything he is doing and to be a consistent player, I think that is important.”

A full story on Grand Lake's win can be found in Friday's print edition of The Evening Leader.