The Princeton Rays (6-5) took the second game of a three game series with the Pulaski Mariners (6-5) 5-3. Pulaski spent the entire game playing catchup, and at several junctures appeared to be one swing away from opening the floodgates and seizing the game.
Errors once again handicapped Pulaski. In the first inning, a throwing error by first baseman Carlton Tanabe allowed Thomas Milone-who singled earlier in the inning-to score.
Princeton kept their foot on the gas pedal in the top of the second. Carter Burgess and Cristian Toribio slashed back-to-back one-out singles. Later in the frame, Riley Unroe hit a hard-hit ball up the middle which deflected off the shoe of pitcher Taylor Byrd (0-1, 4.76 ERA) and scored a run. Milone then finished off the inning with a bases clearing, two-RBI triple.
Rays' starter Jose Alonzo (2-0, 0.60 ERA) held true to his early-season form. The right hander pitched five innings and was charged with one earned run-Estarlyn Morales scored from third on a balk.
For the second straight game, Princeton's starting pitcher stymied Pulaski's hitters, and for the second consecutive night the relievers managed to keep the Mariner bats down.
However, this night had a different feel to it. Several times in the middle innings Pulaski threatened to break open a big inning.
The Mariners loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning, but Damion Carroll wiggled free without yielding a run.
Pulaski made the pressure tell with a two-run eighth inning. Wayne Taylor crushed a ball to the six hole that the shortstop could not handle. After a Yordi Calderon whiff back-to-back singles by Morales and Tanabe loaded the bases.
Taylor reached home on a wild pitch by Kyle McKenzie, and Jay Baum singled home Morales to bring the Mariners within two.
The Mariners went down tamely in the bottom of the ninth to concede the game, and the series, to the Princeton Rays.
Pulaski has come back to Earth following a hot start to the season. Tanabe, a veteran of five baseball campaigns, knows that the baseball season has many undulations and swings of momentum.
"Our energy level isn't there" Tanabe said. "Baseball has ups and downs, and we're down right now. We need to go out there and grind it out."
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.