MOREHEAD CITY, N.C. (WNCT) — Friday night was a mixed bag for the Morehead City Marlins and Wilson Tobs.
The Marlins won a 2-1 thriller over the Wilmington Sharks at Big Rock Stadium as pitching and defense led the way for Morehead City (4-2). In Virginia, the Tri-City Chili Peppers (4-0) remained unbeaten by pulling away for a 4-1 win over the Tobs (1-1).
After Marlins starter Shaun Gamelin walked Drew Sturgeon to open the ballgame, the middle infield defense of Blake Falor and Braylin Marine turned a stellar double play to wipe both Sharks runners off the base path. Gamelin would then face more trouble as he allowed a single and back-to-back walks to load the bases with two outs. In a tough situation against Sharks designated hitter Daniel Haab, Gamelin induced a flyout to center to end the threat with three Shark runners left stranded.
The Marlins’ bats would be hot off the jump, as they would plate their first run in the first inning. After Braylin Marine struck out to open the frame, a Trent Youngblood double into the gap would set the table for Phillip Bernstein who drove him in for his eighth RBI of the season for a Marlins 1-0 lead.
Pitching would reign supreme in the second, as both teams recorded 1-2-3 innings. Gamelin would continue that dominance through the top of the third, as he mowed through Ethan Wilder and Case Kermode with his pinpoint fastball and sharp slider to end the inning.
Things did not pick up offensively for either team until the Marlins came to bat in the fifth inning. With one out, first baseman Dan Tauken launched a rocket into right field into the Morehead City night sky with a bat flip that was equally impressive to boot. Tauken circled around to plate the second Marlins run of the night, pushing the score to 2-0.
The Wilmington offense would show signs of life in the sixth, when Ethan Wilder walked to start the inning. Case Kermode followed with a fielder’s choice that saw him replace Wilder on the base path. He stole second, and scored on an AJ Mendolia single. This would cut the Marlins’ lead in half to 2-1.
Hunter Stevens would come out of the bullpen for the Marlins in relief of Shaun Gamelin in the seventh. He walked Sharks shortstop Cam Hassert before setting down the next three batters looking to end the frame. The Marlins’ offense went 1-2-3 in the seventh, to give way for Stevens’ second inning of work. The stalwart right-hander walked the first Shark of the inning, before striking out Kermode and inducing a ground ball by Mendolia that was turned for a sparkling Marlins double-play up the middle. This would hold the line for a Marlins 2-1 lead.
No runs came across for the Marlins in the eighth, and they looked to right-hander Jacob Kroeger to secure the save. Kroeger hit Carson Villalta with a pitch, and Haab sacrificed him over with a bunt to the pitcher. An infield single from shortstop Cam Hassert placed runners at the corners with one away. Sharks right fielder Dylan Jefferies lined out to Phillip Bernstein for out number two, with one more out to get for the Marlins.
Kroeger pulled a rabbit out of his hat for the final out of the game, as he struck out Stephen DiTomaso following a swarm of foul balls to secure the one-run victory for the Marlins against their rivals. Following the 2-1 win, the Marlins improve to 4-2 and 3-2 in league play, while the Sharks drop to 3-3. The Marlins hit the road to take on the Peninsula Pilots Saturday from Hampton, Virginia. First pitch is scheduled for 7 pm.
In Colonial Heights, Va., the Tri-City Chili Peppers got single runs in the third, seventh and eighth innings to pull away from the Tobs. Brandon Eike scored in the third to give Tri-City the lead for good at 2-1.
Rafe Perich and AJ Jones each had two hits for the Tobs.