MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. – The Morehead City Marlins, under second-year head coach Jesse Lancaster, got off to the best start in franchise history. The clubs seven-game winning streak is second to only an 11 game run in 2012.
After weather kept the team off the field on May 29, when a majority of the players arrived to the Crystal Coast, the team would take Puck O'Neil Field the following day for the first full practice of the summer.
With a day of practice under the Marlins belt, the team headed to Wilmington for the first game of the season. Returning pitcher Octavio Mirabal (King University) tossed 5.2 innings in the season opener, only allowing four hits and two runs. A two-run eighth inning from the offense wasn't enough, as the Sharks scored the go ahead run in the bottom half of the inning and won the game, 3-2.
The following night the team settled into Big Rock Stadium for the 2018 home opener. Over 2,200 Marlin fans packed the stadium on Ag Night to see the team avenge the season-opening loss with a 4-1 victory over Wilmington. The fans were treated to an 18 strikeout performance from Morehead City's pitching staff. Starting pitcher Perry DellaValle (Seton Hill) notched 12 K's and was drafted later in the week by the St. Louis Cardinals. Brendan Dougherty (Bradley University) also smashed a pitch over the right field wall for the team's first homerun of the season.
The following day the team picked up the first road win of the summer with a 6-2 triumph over Fayetteville. Danton Hyman's (Newberry College) four stolen bases in the contest marked a franchise-high for a single game.
With back-to-back road games the Marlins traveled to Holly Springs the following day. Ari Sechopoulos (College of Charleston) cracked a pitch into the lights and out of the stadium for the team's second and his first homerun of the season. For the first time this season, the International Tiebreaker rule came into effect in extra innings. Kenny Wells (Seton Hill) recorded his second save of the summer to clinch the squads first extra inning win.
On June 7, back on the road at J.P. Riddle in Fayetteville, the Marlins offense exploded for a season-high 10 runs on 15 hits in a 10-2 rout of the SwampDogs. Mirabal recorded the win, throwing a season-high six innings and striking out seven. The win tied the team's best start in franchise history at 6-1 and matched Morehead City's second-longest winning streak.
The record book extended the next day as the club knocked off Holly Springs, 7-1, in front of 1,437 home fans to notch Morehead City's all-time best start and the second-longest winning streak. Will Johnson (Eastern Kentucky) swiped four bags in the contest, tying current teammate Hyman for the most in single-game history. Riley Campbell's (Toledo) home run over the left field wall gave the Marlins the lead and marked the team's fourth of the year.
Wells was named the Coastal Plain League Pitcher of the Week on June 10, becoming the first Marlin to bring home a weekly league award. Wells leads the league with three saves and hasn't allowed a base runner in four innings of work.
Head Coach, Jesse Lancaster, Quotes:
On The Summers Start
"I am very pleased with the start these boys have had this summer. That seven game streak, started to get a little crazy. The boys began to feel like we wouldn't lose, which is a good mentality as long as we bring the same effort each night going forwards. I am more than pleased with the 7-2 start, but realize we have a very big week ahead with several games versus divisional opponents. We hope we can start a new streak on Monday night."
On This Year's Team
"On another note, as happy as the 7-2 start makes a coach, I am more pleased with how these boys have gone about their everyday business. They have been complimented several times from opposing managers, owners, & fans. These are good kids that are treating people the right way. They deserve our support throughout the summer."
Coastal Plain League Statistic Leaders:
- MHC's pitching staff leads CPL with a 2.02 ERA.
- The staff has allowed league lows of 50 hits, 25 total runs and 18 earned runs.
- Danton Hyman leads the CPL in batting average (.444) and stolen bases (eight).
- Kenny Wells leads the league with three saves.
East Division Team Statistic Leaders:
- The club is at the top of three major categories, leading the division in runs scored (50), hits (75) and stolen bases (23).
- The defense has turned a division-best 10 double plays. (Second-most in the CPL).
- Leads the division with 81 strikeouts.
The Marlins will host the Wilmington Sharks on Monday, June 11, in a matchup between the top-two East Division teams at Big Rock Stadium with a 7:05 p.m. first pitch.