Both the Marlins and the Sharks got strong pitching performances from their starters Monday night, but Wilmington right-hander Jon Olczak out-dueled Morehead City's John Holland, as the Sharks were able to cling to a 2-1 victory at Big Rock Stadium.
Olczak lasted eight innings on the bump for Wilmington, and allowed just a run on three hits while striking out nine hitters. He threw first pitch strikes, and was able to keep Marlins' hitters swinging early in the count and making weak contact, which enabled him to go deep into the ballgame.
"He was doing a very good job with keeping our hitters off balance," said Marlins' outfielder Jacob Bruce. "With a guy throwing a lot of strikes, you get anxious and want to be aggressive, but sometimes you want to work the pitcher and get him tired so that way he'll start throwing more balls. He was throwing a pretty hard fastball, so if we work the count he starts getting tired and the ball becomes easier to hit."
Bruce was eventually able to solve the right-hander, knocking two of the three hits the Marlins had in the game—both of which were singles.
"He was throwing a lot of fastballs to me in my first couple at bats, so I took note of that and I tried to be aggressive."
Olczak's one run effort trumped a brilliantly pitched game by Holland, who was starting his first contest of the season after appearing one time in relief. Holland was just one batter over the minimum in his first, second, fourth and fifth innings, but minor hiccups in the third and sixth put him on the losing side of the score sheet.
In the third, Holland walked Kevin Husum to lead off the inning, and he later scored on an RBI single from Shawn Sanders. Holland then retired eight straight hitters in the fourth, fifth and sixth, before giving up a two-out, solo home run to Michael Montville to make it a 2-1 game.
"He called for a fastball up and away and it was up, he just happened to get some good wood on it," Holland said.
It was otherwise a strong performance from Holland, who put forth the second straight quality start for Morehead City with his six inning, two-run effort.
"I got the run and sink on my fastball in and I was working the ball in and out, and that helped me with my curveball and off-speed," Holland said.
Thorne allowed a double and a walk to start the seventh, but worked out of the jam by inducing a pop up and striking out the last two batters of the inning. He then struck out two more in a scoreless eighth. Weir entered in the ninth, and put forth a three-up, three-down inning with one strikeout.
"It was a great job for them to come in, throw strikes and get outs," Holland said.
"I thought our guys pitched extremely well," said head coach Sam Carel. "I think our guys threw a great game. It was a great game overall. They made a couple more quality pitches than we did, and they got an extra clutch hit. That's baseball."
The Marlins came within inches of getting a clutch hit of their own in the ninth, with pinch-runner Andrew Amaro on third as the tying run. Johnny Caputo smashed a ball down the left-field line that was just barely ruled foul. It was so close even the Sharks' left fielder Husum threw up his hands to call for a ground-rule double when it became lodged in the left field fence.
But Caputo ended up striking out for the final out in the game, as the Marlins fell 2-1 in a crisply played, two hour-twenty-three-minute contest.
"It was a great summer collegiate baseball game," Carel said. "I wish we could have come out on the winning side, but it was a game I was glad to be a part of."
Morehead City will play again at home on Tuesday against the Wilson Tobs, with first pitch at 7:05.
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