Another double-digit run game, and a strong, six-inning performance from starter Cal Quantrill lifted the Marlins to their second straight win, and fourth in their last six games on Wednesday against the Peninsula Pilots.
Peninsula had won seven straight games entering play, and 16 of their last 19 overall, but were unable to solve Quantrill, who stymied the Pilot's hitters for six solid innings. The Stanford right-hander allowed just a run on five hits in his outing, while walking two and striking out eleven. The eleven strikeouts were a season-high at any level for Quantrill, and were the most in a ballgame this year by any Marlins' starter. The strikeouts were due in part to the added use of his slider, which he used in addition to his fastball, curveball and changeup.
"I am making a conscious effort to try to use it more," Quantrill said. "That's the goal—to go back to college next year and have the slider and the curve. I threw [the slider] probably three or four times as much as I have ever thrown it in a game, and it went well. I will continue to try to use that, but also it's important to go back to the fastball and change to try to get guys out."
Quantrill struggled with the fastball location early, and it caused him to have two rough innings to start the game.
In the first, Quantrill hit Will Shepherd, who later stole second base and came around to score on an RBI single from Alex Close.
The second inning was the real challenge for Quantrill though. He loaded the bases with one man out, but then struck out Garrett Brooks and Shepherd to end the frame unscathed. From that point on he rolled, allowing just three base runners and only two hits.
"He continued to compete," said head Coach Sam Carel. "He did not have his best stuff tonight until the game progressed. Great pitchers do that, they find a way to compete and get the job done when they are fighting against themselves."
"I just started getting the ball down a little bit," Quantrill added. "I was leaving it up earlier in the game, not getting ahead in counts. After that, we were good to go and it really just fell into line."
The bullpen held the game in place after Quantrill's exit. Logan Hershenow made his team-leading 12th appearance, working a scoreless seventh. Jordan Knutson then worked around a leadoff error to shut the
"Excellent job [by the bullpen]," Quantrill said. "It is real tough coming into a blowout game, losing or winning. It's difficult to keep that competitive edge."
"It was nice to finish strong like that instead of being sloppy at the end," Carel said.
The offense backed the pitching staff, posting yet another double digit hit and run performance. Morehead City smashed 12 hits, 10 of which came in the first three innings.
The second inning was the one that really hurt the Pilots and starter Cole Cromer. Cromer entered the game with a 1.88 ERA, but Morehead City touched him up for six runs on seven hits in the inning, including three straight RBI doubles from Blake Graham, Nick Lombardi and Johnny Caputo.
Graham finished the day 2-for-4 with two runs, a walk and two RBI, Jacob Bruce was 2-for-4 with two runs scored, Trent Leimkuehler drove home two with a double in five trips, and Eduardo Castro drove in his eighth run of the season with an RBI single in three at bats.
Morehead City has now scored 61 runs in their six wins this season, compared to just 21 from their opponents. Of those six wins, they have four double-digit run performances, and one other game where they scored nine.
This win was a strong way to kick off the second half of the season.
"We have been talking like that for a while," Carel said. "Everything has been geared towards the second half and it was nice to see."
Morehead City will be back at home Thursday at Big Rock Stadium to take on the Wilmington Sharks, before traveling to Wilson on July 4 to play the Tobs. Both games start at 7:05 p.m.
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