MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. — The Fish Tacos swept the Sharks in a doubleheader at home to tie the season series six to six. It was an eventful two games as the Fish Tacos took the first game 8-4, and the second game 4-1.
In the first game, Trent Anderson (Missouri-St. Louis) got the start for the Fish Tacos, and Andy Cook started for the Sharks.
The Sharks got on the board first as AJ Mendolia doubled past second baseman Trent Youngblood’s (Transylvania) glove and trickled into right field. Mendolia scored on a sacrifice fly to center field by Cam Burgess to take an early 1-0 lead.
Pitching and fielding dominated as both teams remained scoreless until the fifth inning. Trent Anderson pitched the first and second innings, giving up one run and facing just nine batters. Jack Eshleman (Hamilton College) came in relief and pitched three up, three down innings in the third and fourth.
Blake Barton led off the top of the fifth with a single before being driven in by a Dylan Jeffries double, making the score 2-0 in favor of the Sharks. In the bottom half, the Fish Tacos responded as Mike Kenney (Mount Olive) hit a leadoff base hit, followed by a walk from McGwire Tuffy (Quinnipiac). After two outs forced by Sharks pitcher Sam Nomura, a walk to Nate Anderson (Gardner-Webb) loaded the bases. Austin Skipper came in for Nomura and walked Will Walsh (Nebraska), scoring Kenney, before forcing a groundout to end the inning. The Fish Tacos trailed 2-1 heading into the sixth inning.
Sebastian Mejia (UT Rio Grande Valley) and Hunter Stevens (Mount Olive) combined for a one, two, three inning in the top of the sixth, setting up the offense for the Fish Tacos in the bottom half.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Fish Tacos sent 12 batters to the plate, scoring seven runs. Shayne Campbell (Reinhardt) led off with a walk, and Scotty Young (Rutgers) pinch hit for Dylan Rogers (Appalachian State) and sliced a hit into left field. Kenney then bunted, reaching first as Sharks pitcher Grayson Linderman overthrew the first baseman, scoring Campbell and advancing Young to third. Tuffy walked to load the bases, and Caleb Lanoux replaced Linderman on the mound. Joseph Mershon (College of Charleston) hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Young and giving the Tacos a 3-2 lead. Youngblood, Anderson, and Walsh followed with consecutive singles, driving in four more runs. Young scored the seventh run with a single, bringing Walsh home and making the score 8-2 heading into the seventh inning.
The Sharks started a rally in the top of the seventh with back-to-back walks from Cam Hassert and Barton. After a passed ball that advanced both runners, Kyle Smith singled to add two more runs. Fish Tacos pitcher Hunter Stevens then retired the side to secure an 8-4 victory in game one of the doubleheader.
The Fish Tacos continued the momentum from game one into game two in spectacular fashion. The game got off to a slower start, and crescendoed in the middle innings to a 4-0 win. Kevin Opanel (Monmouth) got the start for the Fish Tacos. Opanel showcased a lively fastball and a darting slider to the tune of a four-inning masterclass walking one batter, and striking out three.
Opanel got the start for the Tacos and worked around an Ethan Wilder single in the first to head to the bottom of the inning in a scoreless tie. Cade Granzow got the start for the Sharks and would dispose of the Tacos 1-2-3 in order in the top of the first.
The second would fly by for both teams, as Opanel got the frame started with a strikeout of Chase Nixon and induced two flyouts for a 1-2-3 second inning. The Fish Tacos would get Will Walsh (Nebraska) to third, but were not able to bring him home, and the game remained scoreless after two innings.
Both teams would leave runners on in the third inning, as Wilmington would leave AJ Mendolia on following a walk, and Morehead City would leave Scotty Young (Rutgers) at third following a hit-by-pitch.
Both teams would leave runners on in the fourth as well, with the Tacos just missing a scoring opportunity in the fourth after Walsh doubled to right center and a wild pitch advanced him to third.
Lightning struck for the Fish Tacos in the sixth. Dan Tauken (Albany) and Zach Marriott (Hendrix College) walked, and McGwire Tuffy (Quinnipiac) hit into a fielder’s choice which resulted in an error. This would load the bases for Young, who had been hit by a pitch earlier in the game. Young pelted a cement mixer like a laser beam over the wall for the first Tacos grand slam of the year, and began his grand trot around the base paths, as the Tacos took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the sixth.
The Sharks would plate a run against Joe Miceli (Gardner-Webb) with Cam Hassert on first in the seventh, as Dylan Jeffries would slice a triple to right field, and as Tauken made a heroic diving effort, but would come up just short. Hassert came in to score the first Sharks run of the game to cut the lead to 4-1, before Nick McCollum (Georgia Southwestern State) came on and nailed the door shut to preserve the save of the Tacos’ 4-1 win and secure the doubleheader sweep.
With the sweep, the Fish Tacos improved to 20-12, and 4-4 in the second half. With the sweep, the Tacos even the season series against the Sharks at 6-6. Following an off day on Wednesday, the Marlins will travel to Wilson on Thursday to take on the Tobs. First pitch is scheduled for 7PM.