SARATOGA — Sunday was a mirror of the Clinton County Junior Mariners’ season.
The Mariners gave it their best shot but dropped a 7-5, 8-inning contest to the Montreal Titans U17 in the championship game of the Next Level Baseball League Tournament.
Earlier in the day, the Mariners (19-17), who finished 2-2 in the event to end their season, reached the finals with a 5-2 victory over the Saratoga Stampede U17.
“We didn’t accomplish what we set out to do this year,” said Mariners coach Gary Duquette. “But the kids played their hearts out today and came up on the short end of the stick.
“The kids made it fun for me this year, and I appreciate them being here every day. They’re good baseball players.”
Against the Titans, the Mariners forced extra innings with a run in the bottom of the seventh. Justin Stevens singled, Tanner Rascoe walked and Mitchell Cunningham got a base hit to drive in the tying run.
“We ended up having the bases loaded, with one out, and needed just one more hit,” Duquette said. “But we weren’t able to get it, and that has been the story of our season.”
Montreal then scored two runs in the top of the eighth to prevail.
The Mariners rapped out nine hits in all, with Cunningham getting a double and single, and Jack Tolosky two singles.
“It was a very intense game right from the beginning,” Duquette said.
Ryan Meyer, the second of three Mariners on the mound, took the pitching loss.
Against the Stampede U17, Quenton Barber allowed three hits in going the distance for the pitching win.
“Barber pitched an excellent game,” Duquette said. “We have been working with him and pushing him all season to get out of the fifth or sixth inning when he becomes tired. Today, he threw 110 pitches and was just as strong in the seventh inning.
“We needed a big game from him, and he came through for us.”
Still, the Mariners trailed by a 2-1 score until getting two runs in the top of the sixth to take the lead for good.
Cunningham singled in the tying run, and Rascoe singled in the go-ahead run. Clinton County then tacked on two more in the seventh for insurance.
“That Saratoga team is one of the better teams we have played all season,” Duquette said. “We’ve had some close games with them. We got good pitching today, and we played good defense.”
Stevens and Nathan Emery led the Mariners with a double and single each, while Tolosky added two singles. Clinton County held a 10-3 advantage in hits.
Mariners 5, Stampede U17 2
Mariners 001 002 2 — 5 10 1
Stampede 002 000 0 — 2 3 0
Q. Barber and Altizer. Sowards, Smith (6) and Bush. WP- Q. Barber. LP- Sowards. 2B- Stevens (M), Emery (M).
Titans U17 7, Mariners 5 (8)
Titans 001 013 02 — 7 6 2
Mariners 101 020 10 — 5 9 1
Grafton, Dupuis (3), LaLand (7) and Caduroy. Buksa, Meyer (4), Tolosky (8) and Altizer. WP- LaLand. LP- Meyer. 2B- Cunningham (M).