After falling into an early hole at Big Rock Stadium, the Marlins rallied back and topped the Wilmington Sharks 4-3 on Saturday night.
The Sharks struck early with a three-run top of the 1st inning off of Marlin starting pitcher Hunter Shepherd (Catawba). The inning marked the 7th straight home game that the Marlins allowed at least one run in the 1st inning.
But that offense ended up being all the Sharks could muster throughout the game. Shepherd settled down after the 1st and threw 3.2 shutout innings to follow. Although the Sharks picked up 9 hits off of the Marlins lefty, they stranded six runners and were unable to pull away.
In the 6th inning, the Marlin bats woke up against Sharks starter Cameron Reeves. Dusty Baker (East Carolina), and Shepherd led off the inning with back to back hits, and Colby Johnson (Charleston) was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Jack Harris came through in the big spot, with a 2-run single to cut into the deficit. Harris leads the team with 46 RBI.
With two on and nobody out, Reeves was pulled in favor of Troy Britts (Liberty). Britts recorded the first two outs, but on a wild pitch Johnson came in to score the tying run. Then Bryan Kowalski (Pfeiffer) drove in the go-ahead run with an infield single to give the Marlins a 4-3 advantage.
From there, Ashton Raines held it down for the Marlins on the mound, throwing 3 innings of shutout ball to keep the Marlins in front. Then Cal Hehnke (Omaha) came on for the 9th and struck out a pair of batters to earn his team-leading 5th save of the summer. Raines earned the win, improving to 3-0.
The win was the Marlins 6th in a row, and their magic number to clinch the 2nd Half East Division is down to 2. It also marks their 12th victory in 13 games against the Sharks.
The Marlins are back in action tomorrow, as they travel to Holly Springs to take on the Salamanders, in the final matchup of the year between the division rivals.