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Unbeaten Mainland survives scare from rival Ocean City, takes over first place in CAL American

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By DAVE O’SULLIVAN Publisher OCEAN CITY — It doesn’t quite reach the level of the Hatfields vs. the McCoys, but when Mainland Regional and Ocean City get together — in any sport — there’s no shortage of intensity or love lost. And Friday afternoon’s baseball game had a little bit of extra juice. The winner would stake claim to sole possession of first place in the Cape-Atlantic League American Conference. Mainland took an early 4-0 lead before Ocean City stormed back to go ahead 5-4. The Mustangs then rallied with three runs in the top of the sixth and had to hang on through a nerve-wracking bottom of the seventh for a 7-6 win. Jeremy West started off the seventh with a single for the Red Raiders (7-3, 5-1), and the next batter, Zach Zellers, reached when Mainland second baseman Kyle Gerace flubbed a potential double play ball up the middle. Gerace got a chance to redeem himself later in the inning. Kyle Millar’s bloop single scored courtesy runner Martin Shaw to cut the deficit to 7-6, but with runners at first and second with one out, Gerace took a feed from shortstop Matt McLaughlin and turned a game-ending 6-4-3 double play. Ocean City's Doug Shallcross rips a base hit to right field during the Red Raiders' game against rival Mainland on Friday. Ocean City’s Doug Shallcross rips a base hit to right field during the Red Raiders’ game against rival Mainland on Friday. Ocean City coach Craig Mensinger said he hopes the loss will give his team a little extra motivation heading into the final week of April. “Because of the rivalry and how well both teams are doing, there was a little more pressure. But if we had won I would be saying the same thing — it’s just one game. Right now it hurts, and I hope it hurts for the kids and they respond tomorrow,” Mensinger said. “We’ll find that out tomorrow. A good team will (respond). This is a gut-check for a lot of these kids. We’ve been in some tough games already this year and they have responded, so I anticipate that we’re going to respond OK.” “It’s always good when you are in a tough, close game like that. They were ranked ahead of us, so it was a challenge, but we had to overcome that challenge,” Morton said. “It’s always fun beating (Ocean City). It’s great when it comes down to the last play, but there are some nerves.” Mensinger said he was proud of the way his team responded when it was down, but knows the Red Raiders have to play much better baseball heading into the bulk of their schedule if they want to remain a contender in the CAL American. “We definitely didn’t play our best baseball, there’s no doubt about that, and I don’t think they did either. They booted the ball around a little bit, so it was not a clean game by either team,” Mensinger said. “But it was a game where I was proud that we came back. We came back twice. We came back once, then they took the lead, and we came back again, so that’s something we can build on. And, man-for-man, they have to clean up their game and I hope they do that.” Contact Dave O’Sullivan: sully@acglorydays.com; on Twitter @GDsullysays  [adsense]

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