---- — PLATTSBURGH — The Clinton County Junior Mariners were their own worst enemy on Sunday.
The Mariners, however, still found a way to win.
Caleb Keysor’s line drive over the first-base bag scored Brandon Buksa in the bottom of the seventh inning and gave Clinton County a 5-4 walk-off victory over the Montreal Titans U17 in the championship game of the Next Level Baseball League Tournament at Lefty Wilson Field.
The Mariners, coming off a tough 1-0 loss to the Saratoga Junior Stampede the day before, uncharacteristically made five errors in the contest and had a battle on their hands.
“It was a tough loss the day before,” said Mariners coach Gary Duquette. “But our kids always come ready to play and they’re excited to play.
“But it was very frustrating to start the game. Our defense was not holding up its end of the bargain. We didn’t quit, however.”
The score was tied at 4-all entering the bottom of the seventh.
But Buksa doubled to the gap in left center with one out. The Titans then had the option of walking Keysor, who had a hit earlier in the game, to set up a force or pitch to him.
They chose to pitch to him and it didn’t work out for them when Keysor pulled the ball down the line in right to easily score Buksa with the game-winning run.
Buksa finished the game with two doubles and two RBI, while Keysor added two singles and a RBI. Andy Kneussle and Gerrit Rietsema each had a single.
“Buksa and Keysor swung great bats for us,” said Duquette. “Buksa was chosen as the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. He pitched a shutout earlier on and went five-for-10 at the plate.”
Quenton Barber started on the mound for the Mariners and Rietsema picked up the win in relief after taking over in the fifth inning.
“Both Barber and Rietsema threw well,” said Duquette. “Rietsema struggled defensively today, but picked himself up when he went to the mound. He was lights out — he wasn’t overpowering, but threw the ball well.”
The Mariners (19-4) are back on the field on Tuesday when they play the Vermont Jays in the completion of an earlier suspended game at 6 p.m. prior to the regularly scheduled contest.
Mariners 5, Titans 4
Titans 200 020 0 — 4 3 1
Mariners 002 110 1 — 5 6 5
Barber, Rietsema (5) and Hartman. WP- Rietsema. 2B- B. Buksa (M) 2.