Wilmington, NC- The Marlins dropped a thrilling first game of the season against the Sharks by a score of 7-6 in 11 innings on Thursday. The scoring started in the second, when Marlins Designated Hitter Evan Leibl scorched a ball over the high wall in Centerfield For the Marlins’ first home run of the year.
The Sharks bounced right back with a score of their own in the bottom half when Carson Villalta scored on an error by Marlins second baseman Trent Youngblood.
The Sharks put some distance between themselves and their aquatic rivals with a three-run four hit fourth inning, capped by Cam Hassert’s two-RBI single.
Coming into the top of the fifth down 4-1, the Marlins turned up the heat. A Dan Tauken single and a Landon Choboy two-run big fly brought the Marlins within one.
RBI singles by Ryan Bellamy and Trent Youngblood opened the sixth frame. The Marlins took a 5-4 lead looking for more, but a slick 4-6-3 double play by Wilmington second baseman Carson Villalta held the line for the Sharks.
Following the seventh-inning stretch, a play that produced two throwing errors for Morehead City gifted the Sharks another run to pull the scoring even at 5.
Pitching shone brightly in the eighth, as Andy Cook struck out the Marlins in order in the top of the inning, and Jacob Kroeger returned the favor, striking out three Sharks in the bottom half. With a chance to break through in the ninth, both teams mustered a hit, but neither could bring a run across.
Small ball prevailed in the tenth, as both teams scored their designated runner placed at second base to begin extra innings, and the fighting fish squads pushed the riptide towards the eleventh.
Phillip Bernstein began the eleventh as the placed runner for the Marlins, and advanced to third on a groundout by Landon Choboy, but the Marlins were left scoreless in the top of the frame.
Wilmington would prevail in the eleventh inning, as Drew Sturgeon was placed as the Sharks’ intentional baserunner. A Carson Villalta single put two runners on for the Sharks, and Simon Turner was intentionally walked to load the bases. Josiah Zamora climbed the hill hoping to induce a double-play, and Ethan Wilder stepped into the box. Wilder laid down a sacrifice squeeze to Zamora who flipped it back to the plate just behind a diving Sturgeon to score the winning run for the Sharks.
The Sharks move to 1-0 on the season, and the Marlins fall to 0-1.
The Marlins return home to take on the Tri-City Chili Peppers in their home opener on May 26th. First pitch will come your way from Big Rock Stadium at 7PM.