MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. — Despite the perseverant play of the Fayetteville SwampDogs, the Morehead City Marlins held on for a 10-7 victory at Big Rock Stadium. The win was the Marlins 3rd in a row, and increased their lead in the 2nd half East Division to 1.5 games.
The Marlins came out firing in the first two innings, with Jace Mercer (Cincinnati) launching his first home run of the summer on the first pitch thrown by SwampDog starter Krishna Raj (Tulane). Hunter Shepherd (Catawba) added a two-run blast, his fourth of the summer, to put the Marlins out in front 3-1.
Then in the 2nd, Jacob Reimold (St. Leo) led off the inning with a double. With one after a pair of hit batters, Dusty Baker hit a routine 4-6-3 double play ball to SwampDog 2nd baseman Yareb Martinez. However, Martinez kicked it, allowing Reimold to score and the inning to continue with just one out.
After the error, Daniel Little (Richmond) scored on a wild pitch, and Blaze Glenn (Youngstown State) drove in Jace Mercer with an RBI single. To cap off the inning, the Marlins perfectly executed a double steal, with Dusty Baker (East Carolina) stealing home to put the Marlins up 7-1.
The SwampDogs responded with a pair of runs in the top of third, scoring on a sac fly and RBI groundout, to trim the deficit to 7-3.
But Marlins starting pitcher Michael Johnson (N.C. A&T) settled down after that point, and got through two more scoreless innings. He finished with 5 innings pitched, 3 runs allowed on 7 hits, with one walk and 4 strikeouts.
The Marlins added some insurance in the 6th inning, with Little scoring on a wild pitch, Mercer scoring on a groundout, and Shepherd driving in Baker with an RBI single to take a 10-3 lead.
However, once again the SwampDogs weren't done fighting. They plated three runs in the 7th, with three key RBI hits to trim the deficit to 10-6.
In the 8th inning, the SwampDogs loaded the bases for their cleanup batter Alex Kachler, and the Marlins countered with their All Star reliever Cal Hehnke (Omaha). Hehnke struck out Katchler, and held on in the 9th for his 3rd save of the summer.
The Marlins sit 1.5 games over the Wilmington Sharks in the 2nd half East Division Standings, and improve to 27-12 overall. The two teams square off again tomorrow in Fayetteville.