SAUGERTIES — Everything was going as planned for the Clinton County Junior Mariners on Saturday.
The Mariners scored five runs in the second inning and held a 7-2 lead over the Saratoga Junior Stampede in the opening round of American Legion Zone Tournament play.
It then, however, went bad for the Mariners.
Saratoga scored three runs in the sixth inning and broke loose for seven in the seventh to rally for a 12-8 victory.
“We held 7-2 and 8-5 leads,” Mariners coach Gary Duquette said. “But we made a combined five errors in the sixth and seventh innings, and it was tough to watch. Our pitching was okay and we finally hit the ball.”
Ben Place led the Stampede with three hits, while Anthony Monaco, Anthony Kolberg and Brent Coffey added two apiece. Ryan Keefe, the third pitcher used by Saratoga, was the winner in relief.
Quenton Barber paced the Mariners with two doubles and two RBI, while Caleb Keysor added two singles and Tristan Archambault a single and three RBI. Brandon Buksa, Dan Hartman and Andy Kneussle each added a single.
Kneussle started on the mound for the Mariners and Barber took the loss in relief.
The Mariners took a 7-2 lead into the sixth when the Stampede scored three runs to cut their deficit to 7-5.
Clinton County made it 8-5 with a run in the bottom of the sixth before Saratoga had its big seventh.
“I don’t think it was a matter of us losing our focus with the lead,” said Duquette. “We’re not the type of team to lose focus. We just started kicking the ball around in the sixth and seventh innings.”
Saratoga and Middletown played a winner’s bracket game later on Saturday and the loser of that contest will play Clinton County at 1 p.m. Sunday, with the winner moving on and the losing team going home in the double-elimination event.
Should the Mariners win, they would then need two wins over the team that advances to the championship round through the winner’s bracket. The first contest will follow the 1 p.m. game. If the Mariners win that game, the deciding contest would then be played on Monday.
“We have to take the long road now,” Duquette said. “But I expect us to win two games on Sunday. If we play well, we will win both games. We have the talent to do so.”
Stampede 12, Mariners 8
Stampede 100 103 7 — 12 14 3
Mariners 050 021 0 — 8 8 6
Brown, Gates (2), Keefe (5) and Coffey. Kneussle, Rietsema (7), Barber (7) and Hartman. WP- Keefe. LP- Barber. 2B- Monaco (S), Kolberg (S), Place (S), Barber (M) 2.