Armstrong fans nine as Marlins win, 4-3

Shawn Armstrong struck out nine in four innings of work and the Morehead City Marlins scored a run in the bottom of the eighth inning to defeat the Florence RedWolves, 4-3, at Puck O’Neal Field at Big Rock Stadium Sunday night.

Armstrong, a redshirt-freshman right-hander out of East Carolina, arrived at Morehead City earlier in the day and joined the Marlins (5-0) at the start of batting practice. He then made his season debut in relief of starter Rob Kumbadovic in the sixth inning, striking out the first two batters he faced.

Armstrong (W, 1-0) would go on to throw the game’s final four innings and strike out nine Florence (3-2) batters – including Tyler Boyd to end the game – against just one walk. He retired seven batters in a row to end the game, allowing Morehead City to earn the one-run victory.

That decisive run came in the bottom of the eighth after Shawn Lovette led off the inning with a line-drive single to right off of Florence reliever Kit Carter (L, 0-1). Four batters later, Lovette stood on third base when Nolan Lancaster chopped a slow roller up the third base line. By the time Carter reached the ball, Lancaster reached safely and Lovette crossed home.

Earlier, Morehead City opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning when Tripp Lancaster executed a safety squeeze, scoring Trey Such from first base to put the Marlins up 1-0. After Florence tied the score in the top of the third, Such answered with a run-scoring single that sent Brian Inghram home as the Marlins’ second run.

Florence answered with another run in the top of the sixth, but Morehead City regained the lead in the bottom of that frame thanks to Justyn Carter’s 2-out RBI double to left that scored Matt Ciraco. Florence touched Armstrong for an unearned run in the top of the seventh to make the game 3-3, leading to Nolan Lancaster’s game-winning hit in the eighth.

Ciraco’s sixth-inning stolen base improved the Marlins’ team total to 22-for-22 on the basepaths to this point in the season. With the win, Morehead City now holds a two-game lead over Florence in the South Division standings. The Marlins have their first day off of the season tomorrow before traveling to Edenton to take on the Steamers on Tuesday night.