WILMINGTON, NC – “It was ugly, but it got the job done.”
That was head coach Jesse Lancaster’s initial reaction after the Morehead City Marlin’s 6-3 victory on the road over the Wilmington Sharks on Opening Night of the 2021 campaign. The Marlins scored 4 runs in the top of the 8th inning to come from behind in the late innings to get a W in the first night of their title defense.
“We’ve got a lot of things to work on, but I’m pleased with the win and saw a lot of good things tonight,” Lancaster said.
The Marlins missed on an early opportunity, as leadoff man and shortstop Justin Johnson (Lafeyette) led the game off with a double. The Marlins weren’t able to get him home after a lineout, strikeout, and groundout ended the inning.
The Sharks opened the scoring against Marlin starter Justin Kleinsorge in the 2nd inning on a pair of doubles, the second one by Brett Carson to make it 1-0.
The Marlins answered right back in the 3rd inning, when Nick Sanders (Reinhardt) led off with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and then advanced to third on a balk. He was hit home on a sacrifice fly by Johnson, evening the score at 1.
The Marlins took their first lead of the game on another sacrifice fly, this time by catcher Robbie O’Neal (UNC-Greensboro), and the score was 2-1.
The Sharks added a run in the sixth, and a run in the seventh on a costly error by the Marlins that extended the inning. Wilmington went to the 8th with a 3-2 lead.
That’s when the Marlin bats came to life.
Returning Marlin Jack Harris (Newberry) led the inning off with a line drive single, and advanced all the way to third on a couple wild pitches. Caleb Morris (Pitt CC) walked, and then Jordan Johnson (Arkansas-Monticello) got the biggest hit of the game for the Marlins, driving in Harris. The Sharks then made a couple throwing errors on the same play, allowing Morris to score all the way from first. A strikeout and a walk put runners on the corners for Sean Johnson (Belmont-Abbey), and he lined a sharp single to left, scoring Jordan Johnson and giving the Marlins a 5-3 lead. They weren’t done just yet, as Nick Sanders also singled to score Sean Johnson. The Marlins put up 4 runs, 5 hits, and the Sharks committed 3 errors in a huge top of the 8th inning.
Jack Hodgins (Hendrix) came on to pitch a scoreless bottom of the 8th, helped out by a huge double play (5-4-3).
Logan Garza (Texas A&M-Kingsville) came on for the save in the 9th, and he allowed the tying run to come to the plate, but ended the game with a strikeout on a beautiful breaking ball with 2 runners in scoring position.
Brendan Bean (Penn) got the win, pitching 2 innings in relief, allowing 2 hits and 1 earned run. Justin Kleinsorge (Regis) started for the Marlins and looked very solid, throwing 5 innings, allowing 5 hits and just one run. He also racked up 5 strikeouts and no walks. Hodgins pitched a scoreless 8th, and Garza picked up the save with a scoreless 9th.
The first-ever Golden Chumbucket series favors the Marlins 1-0. These two teams are back at it tonight on Opening Night at The Rock, where the 2019 championship team will be honored before the game. Tickets are almost sold out, so get yours here!