The first game of the NorCal playoffs went Marin's way on Friday, as the Mariners scored three in the sixth and four in the eighth to grab a 10-4 victory. Chase Gardner started for the Mariners and struggled through five before Chrit Rudkin delivered a yeoman's effort in relief to earn the victory. Mariners two through five hitters combined for seven hits, nine RBI and seven runs scored.
The game started as a back and forth affair as Marin took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Fresno tied it in the top of the second, before the Mariners scored again in the third. Fresno took a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth before Marin tied it at 3-3 in the bottom half.
Gardner pitched the first five innings for the Mariners and struggled with a tight strike zone. He allowed three runs, four hits and six walks while striking out four. He did keep the game close enough for his team to respond. Rudkin took over on the hill in the sixth and blazed strikes to speed up the pace.
College of Marin finally gained some separation in the bottom of the sixth as Nick Heimbroadt scored on a wild pitch. After putting runners on second and third, Adam Hussain doubled in Christian Merriwether and Chiu for a 6-3 lead.
Rudkin breezed through the seventh, but ran into a bit of trouble in the top of the eighth inning. Fresno City loaded the bases with two outs before Sal Esparza hit a hard line drive to center. Merriwether charged and made a head high catch to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the eighth, Merriwether lead off with a single a stole second, he moved to third on a ground out and came around to score on a double by Chiu. Adam Hussain walked and both advanced on a wild pitch. Jakob Davidson lashed a double to gap scoring two more before Munoz singled to score Davidson.
With a 10-3 advantage, Jason Wutsch was summoned to finish the game. He got the first two outs before allowing a single and a triple, which scored Fresno's fourth run of the game. He bounced back with a strikeout to end the game and give the Mariners a 1-0 series lead.
Rudkin earned the win in relief allowing three hits and a walk in three scoreless innings of a relief. Chiu reached base five times and scored five runs while Munoz was two for three with four RBIs.
The Mariners need one more win to advance to the Super Regionals. Saturday's first game is at 11am with Dom Garihan on the mound.