Oakland, CA—It all came down to the final game of the season. Win and you're in for Marin. Easier said than done seeing as the team to beat is the newly crowned Bay Valley Conference Champs—the Laney College Eagles. The Mariners headed into the game 0-2 against Laney, and to make the match up a little bit more difficult still it was on the road.
Playing their second game in as many days, the Mariners put themselves on the board quickly. A two out Matt Tarantino double down the left field line in the bottom of the first was capitalized upon by Marin. An infield hit from Ryan Schalch turned into a run as Tarantino used heads up base running to score on the throw and put Marin ahead 1-0.
Chris Norman got his first start of the year out on the mound for Marin, the long reliever and outfielder went into the game with a team best 1.16 ERA in 23.1 innings pitched. After a 1-2-3 first Norman and the Mariners couldn't keep the Eagles off the base paths who used a sacrifice bunt and an RBI groundout to tie the game at 1.
The Mariners and Eagles would exchange zeroes on the scoreboard until the bottom of the fifth when Eric Smith made his first appearance from the bullpen on the year to take over for Norman. It was a less than ideal start to the appearance for the sophomore, walking the bases loaded with the first three batters he faced. After a trip to the mound from Head Coach Conor Bird the lefty induced a double play, on which a run scored, and an inning ending groundout to shortstop Matt Tarantino. Despite having the bases loaded and no one out Laney was able to muster just one run, giving the Eagles a 2-1 lead.
The Mariners had a scoring chance in the top of the sixth when Marcus Chiu tried to go from second to home on a two out single into left field from Paul Kennedy. A strong throw from left arrived in plenty of time to cut down Chiu at the plate and end the inning.
The Mariners kept the pressure on, however. Tyler Torres led off the top of the seventh by dropping a ball down the right field line and hustling out to second base to beat the throw for a leadoff double. Jason Rodriguez moved Torres over to third on a bunt down the third baseline that he nearly beat out on the throw. With one out and the tying run 90 feet away Chris Hayman doubled into left centerfield to tie the game at 2 and put himself into scoring position. After a flyout from Jaymes Potts it was up to Matt Tarantino to try to keep things rolling for Marin. Tarantino did not shy from the moment. Jumping on the first pitch he saw the sophomore sent the ball to San Jose. The two-run blast, Tarantino's fifth home run of the year, put Marin on top 4-2.
With the two run advantage Ryan Schalch moved from first base to the mound. The day before it was Schalch's bat that came up big for Marin, this time Schalch's arm did the heavy lifting for Marin. The righty hurler allowed only two base runners over three frames. In the bottom of the ninth he went 1-2-3, ending the game by getting Brennan Mauchline looking to end the game and finish Marin's regular season with a big win.
The win all but secures a spot in the playoffs, as the Mariners have gone 6-0 over the last two weeks and seem to be firing on all cylinders.
WP: Eric Smith (6-1) 2.0 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 2 K.
SV: Ryan Schalch (5)
Matt Tarantino: 2-5, HR (5), 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R
Chris Hayman: 2-4, 2B, RBI, R