MOREHEAD CITY, NC – It was military appreciation night at The Rock, and boy did the bats show up.
The Marlins beat the Holly Springs Salamanders 14-10 in what is much more commonly a football score than a baseball score. The two teams combined for 14 runs in the first two innings.
Holly Springs started fast, hitting back-to-back home runs in the top of the 1st inning. Then in the 2nd inning, they got 4 runs on 4 consecutive 2-out hits, including a 3-run home run by Caleb Denny, his second of the game. It was 6-0 Salamanders in the blink of an eye.
Then, the bottom of the 2nd inning happened. The Marlins have had some big innings this season, but none bigger than the bottom of the 2nd. It started with Jack Harris (Newberry) hitting a high-arcing solo home run over the left center field fence. Harris has now homered in consecutive games for the first time this season. Dom Bucko (Youngstown State) walked, and then Justin Johnson (Lafayette) unloaded a 2-run bomb for his second homer of the year. It was 6-3 Salamanders at this point.
Then, things got worse for Holly Springs.
Conner VanCleave (Pitt State) walked, Gibson Krzeminski (Canisius) walked, Sean Johnson (Belmont Abbey) singled, bringing Youngstown State shortstop Phillip Glasser to the plate. Glasser promptly lined a grand slam home run just over the right field fence, and just as quickly as they lost it, they Marlins were right back in front 7-6. Harris then came up for a second time in the inning and got hit by a pitch, and then came home to score on a Zack Miller (Catawba) double. Miller has 6 RBIs in the last 3 games.
“That inning was huge for us to answer back,” Marlins head coach Jesse Lancaster said. “They punched us in the mouth early, and we responded back in a big way. It’s important to always keep the pressure on the opposing pitchers and capitalize on their mistakes, and we did that tonight.”
The hit parade was far from over.
Holly Springs got 2 back in the 3rd on another 2-run home run. With 2 outs and the bases empty in the bottom of the 4th inning, Miller walked, Bucko walked, Justin Johnson reached on an error that scored Miller, and then chaos ensued. Johnson stole second and the throw was errant into centerfield. Bucko came home on that bad throw, and then the Salamanders’ center fielder also missed the ball, allowing Johnson to come around to score as well. Then, to top things off, VanCleave hit a missile of a solo home run over the right center field fence for his team-leading 4th long ball of the year. It was 12-8 Marlins at this point.
The Fish added a couple more runs in the 6th inning to make it 14-9 after the Salamanders got one on a 463-foot moonshot home run by Marek Chlup in the 5th.
The Marlins were in a big jam in the 8th inning up 14-10, as the Salamanders had the bases loaded with only one out. Ryder Yakel (Harding) came into the game, and promptly struck out the first two men he faced to get The Fish out of the jam. Yakel then pitched the 9th inning for the save.
Colt Webb got his second win of the season in relief, pitching 2 innings and only giving up one run. Yakel got the save.
This game was particularly important because the Marlins and Salamanders were tied for 2nd in the CPL East heading into tonight with just 6 days left in the first half of the season. Whoever is in first place in the division after the games on June 27 automatically gets a bid to the Petitt Cup Playoffs. With the win and with first-place Peninsula losing to Wilson tonight, the Marlins sit only 1.5 games back of the Pilots in the East.
These two teams are back at it tomorrow at Ting Ballpark in Holly Springs. You can listen to the game live on the Morehead City Marlins radio network.