HAMPTON, VA – You could see it in their eyes when they got off the bus. The Marlins were focused and ready to take care of business, which is exactly what happened on the field at War Memorial Stadium on Sunday night as the Marlins beat the Pilots 8-2.
“So, so pleased,” Marlins head coach Jesse Lancaster said. “We turned it on tonight. You can’t ask for much more on the mound tonight than what we gave. We were ready to play, and it showed. Jared Kollar was as good as a pitcher could be, Jack Harris carried us on his back offensively for a while, but we had other people come through in the clutch as well.”
The Marlins opened the scoring in the 4th inning on the very first pitch of the inning, as Harris (Newberry) launched his 15th home run of the year 426 feet from home plate.
Meanwhile, Kollar (Rutgers) set the first 17 Pilot batters down in order. The first Pilot didn’t reach until the 6th inning when Trevon Dabney doubled off the left field wall. The 1-0 score held all the way until the top of the 8th inning, when the Marlin bats came to life.
Harris led things off with a ground rule double, Hunter Shepherd (Catawba) reached on an infield single, moving Harris to third. Zack Miller (Catawba) bunted Harris home and reached on an error, and Joe Mason (Mount Olive) got hit by a pitch. The Marlins then got another big hit from Jordan Johnson (Arkansas-Monticello), a line drive single that scored Shepherd to extend the lead to 3-0.
Kollar pitched around a bit of trouble in the 8th inning, leaving two Pilots on base, ending his outing with a strikeout. The righty finished with seven strikeouts and only three hits allowed in eight shutout innings.
“I was aggressive early in counts tonight and my defense worked great for me,” Kollar said. “I was able to hit some spots and bury some guys when it got deeper in counts.”
Then, the Marlins offense broke it wide open in the ninth.
They sent 10 men to the plate in the inning. Sean Johnson (Belmont Abbey) led it off with a walk, and then Harris unloaded on another ball, this time to right center field for another home run. It was 5-0 at that point.
“I ended the regular season struggling a little bit,” Harris said. “I was chasing pitches out of the strike zone and not going after pitches in the zone, but tonight I knew what I wanted and I was aggressive early. It worked out.”
It sure did.
The Marlins added three more insurance runs in the ninth after the Harris homer. Shepherd walked, Miller singled, and then Jordan Johnson picked up his second RBI on the night with a sacrifice fly scoring Shepherd.
In the bottom of the 9th, the Pilots strung together 3 hits and scored 2 runs, but it wasn’t near enough.
Game two is tomorrow night at The Rock, with first pitch at 7:05. Buy tickets here to watch the Marlins try and clinch a spot in the Petitt Cup Final.