Morehead City, N.C. - - - After reaching the Petitt Cup playoffs for the second time in franchise history last summer, the Marlins fell short of another postseason bid in the final weekend of the reguar season. Nevertheless, the 2017 Morehead City Marlins comprised of a special group of players who left each fan in the stands at Big Rock Stadium captivated by their thrilling performances on the field every home game. Much like every summer, this year's Marlins team featured premier collegiate baseball talent from across the United States with many current and future Major League Baseball Draft prospects.
The Morehead City Marlins finished the 2017 season at 25-30 overall, along with posting a 13-15 mark in the first half and finished 12-15 in the second half. The Marlins made a late push towards the final spot in the Petitt Cup Playoffs, tallying a four-game win streak in the final full week of the regular season. However, the Fish concluded the summer losing their final four contests.
Nick Podkul (Notre Dame) posted a strong season at the plate as the all-around offensive leader for the Fish. The Fighting Irish sophomore led the team in home runs (9), runs batted in (36) , on-base percentage (.421) and runs scored (38). Podkul's stellar campaign earned him a starting spot on the Coastal Plain League East All-Star team in Holly Springs. He was named the All-Star Game Offensive MVP with his game-winning two-run homer in the bottom of the first inning.
Sammy Miller (Longwood) led the Marlins with 50 total hits and 177 plate appearances, hitting for a .282 average. Miller also topped the MHC charts with 32 walks and 11 stolen bases in 15 attempts.
When fans saw Kyle Skeels (Coastal Carolina) and Daulton Weeks (USC Aiken) enter the batter's box each night, everyone in the ballpark knew they had an opportunity to see baseballs leave the yard. Skeels and Weeks tallied a combined 14 home runs and 56 RBIs.
Skeels finished second on the Marlins with eight dingers and 24 RBIs, while Weeks compiled six long balls and 32 runs driven in. Weeks also posted one of two grand slams for the Fish this summer with Alec Wilson (Stanford). The USC Aiken Pacer junior tallied a team-leading nine doubles and 43 total hits.
Chandler Corley (Armstrong State) was also named a CPL All-Star after leading the team with a .331 average, compiling 46 hits, six doubles, one triple, two home runs and 13 RBIs. Corley spent the majority of the summer as the Marlins lead-off man with a strong .409 on-base percentage.
On the mound, Cody Boydstun (Longwood) was one of the Marlins' most reliable arms out of the bullpen, posting a 2-0 record with 2.76 ERA in 29 1/3 innings pitched. Boydstun tallied 33 strikeouts in all 18 appearances of relief.
Will Matthiessen (Stanford) was lights out in relief as Marlins closer with a team-leading three saves on the season. The Cardinal freshman was 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA in nine innings of work, allowing three earned runs on six hits and 17 strikeouts. Freddie Beamon (USC Aiken) was a perfect 4-0 on the bump through 16 relief appearances and 22 1/3 innings. Beamon tied for third on the team with 34 total strikeouts.
The NC State junior right-handed pitching duo of Zach Usselman and Nolan Clenney posed as major keys to the Marlins defensive success in the late second half of the summer. Both posted a combined 77 strikeouts on the season in 63 total innings.
Usselman had his best performance in game two of the doubleheader versus Edenton on July 21. The Wolfpack right-hander tallied a complete game seven-inning shut out with a season-high 10 strikeouts, allowing four total hits (all singles). Usselman's 43 punch-outs topped the MHC pitching charts with left-hander Octavio Mirabal (King University) finishing second with 37 on the season.
Clenney concluded his Marlins career on a strong note with a solid pitching performance against Wilmington, tossing six innings with one earned run allowed on five hits and nine strikeouts. The Marlins offense was unable to provide any run support and were shut-out for the only time in the 2017 season.
Despite not finishing the full season, right-hander Will Hartsell (Charleston Southern) was nearly unhittable and developed into the ace of the Marlins pitching staff. Hartsell finished the 2017 campaign with a 3-1 record and 0.81 ERA in 22 1/3 innings pitched. Hartsell did not allow an earned run through his first 18 innings of work, allowing only two earned runs with 31 strikeouts.
Although he did not make the trip to Holly Springs, Hartsell was named the Marlins third CPL All-Star and was originally slated to be the starting pitcher for the East team. The CSU Buccaneer redshirt junior had another chance to showcase his talents as the starting pitcher for the CPL Select Team against the USA Collegiate National Team in Cary, N.C. The CPL hammered Team USA 10-0 with the Select Team pitching staff not allowing an opposing hit until the seventh inning.
The 2017 season did have an ideal beginning for the Marlins as they started the summer with an 0-4 record. Morehead City tallied its first victory at Holly Springs on June 3 with a 5-2 win. Despite the first win, the Marlins posted a 2-6 record after the first week of the regular season before the Fish commenced a hot streak.
Morehead City was victorious in six of its next seven contests from June 10-June 15 with a pair of three-game win streaks. The Marlins posted wins against Peninsula (6/10), Fayetteville (6/11) and Holly Springs (6/12) before falling to the Salamanders 6-3 the next night. However, the Fish won their next three games all against the Wilmington Sharks, including a doubleheader sweep at Buck Hardee Field in Wilmington on June 14.
The Marlins went 5-5 in their next 10 games before going on a six-game losing skid to close out the first half of the season. Morehead City entered the All-Star break on a high note with the first walk-off victory of 2017 in a 5-4 win over Fayetteville from Big Rock Stadium. The Fish walked-off three times at The Rock this summer with each of those victories resulting in the Marlins scoring the game-winning run on a wild pitch.
In the first game after the All-Star break, the Marlins defeated the Edenton Steamers at Big Rock Stadium for their second straight win on a walk-off wild pitch by the same final score of 5-4. MHC went 1-3 in its next four games before another three-game win streak with a doubleheader sweep over Edenton and victory over Wilson. The Marlins posted a season-high 17 runs on 18 hits in the
The Marlins scored a combined 35 runs in the stretch with their second doubleheader sweep of the 2017 season. The Fish attempted a late run at the Petitt Cup playoffs, but went 1-5 in their next six contests to essentially put the postseason out of reach.
However, Morehead City posted its longest win streak with four consecutive victories to put the Marlins 2.5 games behind Edenton for the final spot in the Petitt Cup playoffs. The streak would not be enough as the Fish closed out the 2017 campaign on a four-game losing streak, losing three of final four contests at Big Rock Stadium.
In the East division, the Marlins won the season series over Peninsula and Wilson. Morehead City was 3-2 against the Pilots this summer and 2-0 at War Memorial Stadium in Hampton, Va. The Fish tallied a season-high four home runs (all solo) in the final game at Hampton in a 9-4 win (July 26).
MHC beat the Wilson Tobs 8-4 in the 2017 season, winning five out of the last six meetings. The Marlins posted a combined 27 runs in the three-game win streak over Wilson to close out the season.
Until Next Season
Despite a tough ending to the 2017 summer, the Morehead City Marlins have high aspirations for the 2018 season and look to put together a strong team to get the franchise back to the postseason.
Another memorable summer of Marlins baseball at Big Rock Stadium is in the books and aims to provide our amazing fans with an even better 2018 campaign. For all Marlins off-season news and updates, be sure to follow us across all of our social media platforms. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@mhcmarlins) and like us on Facebook (Morehead City Marlins).
In addition, check back here on mhcmarlins.com for special news releases about the upcoming summer season. We look forward to seeing everyone back at 'The Rock' in 2018.
About the CPL
The Coastal Plain League is the nation's premier summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 21st season in 2017, the CPL features 15 teams playing in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL has had nearly 1,300 alumni drafted and 95 of those – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut; while another notable alum – Russell Wilson – won Super Bowl XLVIII. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at www.coastalplain.com and follow us via Twitter @CPLBaseball