Players on the Van Cortlandt Baseball League 16-and-under Mariners squad are developing their skills nicely, but team chemistry could use some improvement, according to coach Kevin Goodman.
That was evident during their July 18 game against the Blue Jays, when the Mariners’ dugout became the scene of a skirmish among teammates over one player’s cell phone.
Still, winning cures all wounds.
Ronald Rodriguez struck out five in six innings and scored the tying run, while Michael Castillo singled and scored the go-ahead run in the fourth as the Mariners earned a 6-4 win.
“I think that despite some of the challenges that we’ve faced over the course of the season, that as time goes on, chemistry improves and teams gel and they tend to play better,” said Goodman, who is an assistant principal at P.S. 173 in Washington Heights. “I think the dustup we saw in our dugout might undermine that idea, but ultimately, this team looks significantly better each time out.”
Soon after the fight, the two combatants — first baseman Marlon Bautista and right fielder Juan Martinez — made a truce and hugged it out.
The Blue Jays scored three runs in the top of the fourth to take a 4-3 lead after three straight walks loaded the bases for the smallest player on the field, 14-year-old Anthony Paulino. He hit an RBI single to right field, and an error allowed another run to score.
But only two other Blue Jays players reached base in the final three innings, when the Mariners clamped down on defense.
Frankie Castillo snagged a pop fly in the top of the sixth and had the presence of mind to double the runner off first after he strayed too far from the bag.
“The fundamentals are there,” Goodman said, “and I think there are times you see them execute some pretty marvelous plays.”
After taking a 5-4 lead in the bottom of the fourth, the Mariners tacked on a run in the fifth, as Augusto Vargas doubled, stole third and scored on an error. Martinez closed the game, striking out two in between a two-out walk in the seventh.
Rodriguez walked six and allowed four hits, including Terrance Mack’s first-inning RBI single, but retired six of the last seven batters he faced.
“I pitched good, but I think I could’ve pitched better,” Rodriguez said. “The defense kept the team momentum going, and at the end of the day, we did enough to win the game.”