HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. — The Marlins secured a scintillating 10-4 victory over the Salamanders on Thursday night, clinching the top spot in the second half for the CPL East. Nick McCollum (Georgia Southwestern) started on the mound for the Marlins, while Michael Foltz Jr. started for the Salamanders.

Morehead City took an early lead by scoring two runs in the top of the first inning. Trent Youngblood (Transylvania) walked and stole second, setting up Bobby Whalen (Virginia). Whalen’s hit to Salamanders second baseman Austin Hawke resulted in an errant throw to first, allowing Whalen to reach second and Youngblood to score. Will Walsh (Nebraska) then hit a sacrifice fly to center field, making the score 2-0 for the Marlins.

McCollum faced four batters in the first inning before being relieved by Max Weber (Felician). The Marlins then exploded for six runs in the top of the third. Jeremy Piatkiewicz (East Stroudsburg) walked, followed by a single from Youngblood. Whalen added another single to load the bases for Walsh, who grounded into a fielder’s choice. An error by Salamanders shortstop Brandon Garcia allowed Piatkiewicz and Youngblood to score, with Walsh reaching second. Landon Choboy (Mount Olive) then hit a single to left field, and Damaurys Rodriguez (Rollins College) doubled to drive in Choboy and Walsh, extending the Marlins’ lead to 5-0. Mike Kenney (Mount Olive) was hit by a pitch to load the bases, and McGwire Tuffy was also hit, scoring Choboy. Piatkiewicz returned to the plate and hit a single to bring home Rodriguez, and Youngblood’s walk brought Kenney around to score, putting the Marlins ahead 8-0.

Both teams scored a run in the fifth inning after a scoreless fourth. For the Marlins, Kenney started with a single and was driven in by Tuffy’s triple to left-center field, bringing the score to 9-0. The Salamanders got on the board with a Mika Petersen double and a Garcia walk. Garrett Pennington hit a single to score both runners, making the score 9-2 in favor of the Marlins.

Each team added a run in the sixth, maintaining the high-scoring matchup. Morehead City extended their lead as Walsh hit a double, Rodriguez was hit by a pitch, Rogers walked to load the bases, and Kenney was hit, bringing home Walsh and pushing the Marlins to 10-2. Logan Murphy (Catawba Valley) relieved Weber, and the Salamanders quickly loaded the bases. Hawke then grounded into a fielder’s choice, scoring Nolan Watson, but Murphy escaped the jam, maintaining the Marlins’ 10-3 lead.

The Salamanders scored their final run in the bottom of the seventh when Noah Emig (Coker) came in to pitch for the Marlins. After Garcia reached base on an error and Joshua Kross hit a single, Watson grounded into a fielder’s choice, allowing Garcia to score, bringing the score to 10-4, where it remained for the rest of the game.

With the 10-4 victory and the Pilots’ loss, the Marlins secured the second-half title in the CPL East division. They improved their record to 32-14 in CPL play. Morehead City will face the Tri City Chili Peppers on Friday night, August fourth, at Big Rock Stadium at 7 PM for their second-to-last regular-season game.