MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. – The Marlins won a 5-4 thriller Saturday night over the Peninsula Pilots, scoring three runs in the top of the ninth. Kevin Opanel (Monmouth) got the start for the Marlins, while Dalton Barham started for the Pilots.
The Marlins started things out hot as Bobby Whalen (Virginia) smacked a double, moved to third on a Dylan Rogers (Appalachian State) fly out to right field, which led to Whalen coming home on a wild pitch to score the first run of the game, putting the Marlins in charge 1-0.
Opanel would keep things moving for the Marlins as he pitched a three up, three down inning in the bottom of the first.
Morehead City scored again in the top of the third inning as Whalen and Rogers hit back-to-back singles to put runners on the corners, giving way to Will Walsh (Nebraska) who skied a fly ball to center field to score Whalen and further extend the Marlins’ lead to 2-0.
The Pilots answered immediately in the bottom half as Marc Cisco singled, stole second, then came home on a hard-hit single into right field by Hunter Cole. They kept it going as Cole stole second and third, then came home on a bunt single from Ryan Dooley to tie the game 2-2.
Runs would go dry for both sides until the bottom of the sixth inning as Kristian Asbury (Troy) and Max Weber (Felician University) tag-teamed the fourth and fifth. Joe Miceli came in to pitch for the Marlins in the bottom of the sixth and put down the first two batters on a strikeout and fly out. Cole then walked to first before putting on the jets, stealing second and third, to give way to Henry Garcia who smacked an infield single to Joseph Mershon (Ohio State) to bring home Cole and give the Pilots a 3-2 lead.
Pitching would reign supreme for the seventh and eighth as no runs came across. Sebastian Mejia (UT Rio Grande Valley) pitched a one-two-three inning in the seventh and struck out the first batter in the eighth to give way to Dan Tauken (Albany), who leads the Marlins in home runs for his first pitching appearance. Tauken put away the next two batters with ease as he struck out Cisco and forced a groundout from Cole.
The Marlins stepped on the gas in the top of the ninth, scoring three runs to keep the game alive. Brantley Cutler (Maryland Eastern Shore) led off for the Marlins and reached on an error by Cisco. Zach Marriott (Hendrix College) followed with a walk, and they both scored on a McGwire Tuffy (George Washington) triple to right field that rolled to the wall, making the score 4-3. Tuffy then scored on a rare fielder’s choice, with no out made on a grounder to first from Whalen, to extend the Marlins’ lead to 5-3.
Nick McCollum (Georgia Southwestern) came in to pitch for the bottom of the ninth to get the save for the Marlins. A walk from Dooley and a double from Justin Starke (Unknown College) that scored Dooley brought the Pilots within one, making it 5-4. McCollum put away the last two batters with a fly out and a strikeout to seal the deal.
The 5-4 victory moves the Marlins to 25-13 in Coastal Plain League play as they still lead in the overall standings.
The Marlins get a day off on Sunday before playing six games in a row, starting with the Holly Springs Salamanders at Big Rock Stadium with the start time at 7 PM.