WILMINGTON, NC – That one stings. The Marlins had a chance to punch their ticket to the Petitt Cup Playoffs on Monday night in Wilmington, but couldn’t get it done, losing 6-5 to the Sharks on a walk-off single from Andrew Ciufo in the eleventh inning.

“That one was tough,” said Marlins head coach Jesse Lancaster. “We have to find a way to put away teams late in innings. This is something we’ll have to do with some high-pressure games late in the season, but we weren’t able to get it done tonight.”

The Marlins missed a big opportunity offensively in the first inning when they loaded the bases with nobody out and were only able to push across a single run. That run came on a bases-loaded walk from Jack Harris (Newberry). Sharks third baseman Taber Mongero made a great play to rob Zack Miller of a hit after that, and then a flyout and a strikeout ended the inning with just one run scored for MHC.

“We have to be better at burying teams when we have the chance,” Lancaster said. “We left the door wide open for them to come back, and that’s exactly what they did.”

Wilmington answered back in the second on a two-run home run from Alec Makarewicz to make it 2-1 Sharks.

The Marlins answered back in the top of 4th inning on a two-run home run of their own, this time by Jeff Wehler (Pittsburgh). It was Wehler’s first homer in the Marlin blue.

The 3-2 score held all the way until the top of the ninth inning. In a pinch-hit role, Conner VanCleave (Pitt State) came up huge again for the Marlins, hitting an RBI single to right field to score Jack Casbarro (Mount Olive). It was 4-2 Marlins heading to the bottom of the ninth with a playoff berth on the line.

The Marlins got the first two outs with ease, but then disaster struck. The Sharks strung together four straight hits with two gone in the ninth to drive home the tying run, the last single coming from John Behrends.

Trey Jernigan (Appalachian State) was able to leave the game winning run on third base in the ninth, sending the game to extra innings. The CPL rules dictate an international tiebreaker in extra innings, meaning two men are on base before a pitch is even thrown.

The tenth inning brought madness in both halves.

In the Marlin half, Hunter Shepherd (Catawba) walked with one out to load the bases. Harris came up and bounced into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning without the Marlins scoring.

In the bottom half, David Smith sacrifice bunted the two tiebreaker runners over to second and third, the Marlins walked Zack Budzik intentionally, and then chaos ensued.

Makarewicz came up and hit a hard chopper to shortstop. Casbarro bodied it up, but the ball bounced off his chest and into the hand of Gibson Krzeminski (Canisius) at second base. Krzeminski picked up the ball, stepped on the second base bagged, and fired a strike over to Shepherd at first base to turn an unconventional 6-4-3 double play to end the inning and extend the game to the eleventh inning.

In the eleventh, the Marlins pushed a run across on a sacrifice fly and RBI from Casbarro, so the Fish led 6-5 heading to the bottom half.

Wilmington loaded the bases with a bloop single by Mongero, and with one out, Hansis popped out to third base. With two out and two strikes, Jack Hodgins (Hendrix) threw a wild pitch over the catcher’s head, scoring the tiebreaker runner Budzik to knot the game up at 5. The next pitch, Ciufo lined a single to right field to end the game and give the Sharks a 6-5 win.

These two finish up their season series tomorrow night at The Rock for the final Taco Tuesday of the season. First pitch is at 7:05, and you can buy tickets here.