A ten-run outburst in game one of the Marlins' twin bill against Wilmington Thursday was enough to help them to a big 10-4 victory over the Sharks before eventually splitting the doubleheader after an 11-6 loss in game two.
Andrew Amaro set the table the entire day for Morehead City, reaching base in eight out of eight plate appearances on the night. In the early game he had a walk, two runs, two hit-by-pitches and stolen base. In the nightcap the Marlins' left fielder was 2-for-2 with an RBI, run, two stolen bases and three walks. Barring any steals from Anthony Marks or Ryan Raslowsky, Amaro is in a tie for fifth in the league in stolen bases with 16 (13 of which have come in 17 games with the Marlins).
"Today I just felt like I was seeing the ball really well and I was on time with the fastball, and that helped me see the secondary pitches which just happened to be balls today," Amaro said. "That got me into hitters' counts, which helped me get two base hits in the second game. In the first game I didn't actually swing the bat. I didn't get many strikes thrown to me the whole first game. I got plunked a couple of times but it was good to get on base for the rest of the team."
The rest of the team did their job as well. Morehead City had eleven hits in the first game of the doubleheader, including solo home runs from both All-Star third baseman Johnny Caputo and outfielder Blake Graham. Caputo's drive came to lead off the fifth inning, and was his fifth of the season. He is now tied for third in the league in home runs.
Graham's blast was an inning later, to start off the sixth inning. He swung at Hunter Smith's first pitch and lofted a fly ball to right-center that cleared the wall for his first home run of the season. He finished the first game 2-for-4 with the homer and two runs.
"He threw me a fastball up first pitch and I was ready for it," Graham said. "When it got up in the wind I knew it was going to leave."
"I thought our offense was pretty good all night long," said Marlins head coach Sam Carel.
In total, he allowed four runs on eight hits while striking out four.
"The thing about Tyler was that once he got to that fifth and sixth and could smell the finish, he finished very strong and that is the sign of a quality pitcher," Carel said.
The win ensured at least a tie for first place no matter what the outcome was in the second game of the doubleheader, and it gave the Marlins a 6-1 record to start the second half.
"Winning the first game was really important because this is one of our rival teams and we are competing for a playoff spot with them," Amaro said. "It was good to get a win over them. Our goal this week was to beat them at least two out of three, so the first win was really good and we can still achieve that goal by winning Saturday."
"It's big," Graham said. "Of course we want to win every game, but you always have to get the first to win to do that. We would have liked to win both, but we will take a split.
The tables turned in the second game as the Sharks struck five times in the first inning against starter Davis Kirkpatrick, who allowed seven of the first eight base runners in the inning to reach before being lifted with one out. All five runs that scored were his responsibility.
Wilmington tacked on another run in the fourth, three in the fifth and two more in the sixth to jump out to an 11-2 lead. The Sharks pitching staff made it interesting by walking eight Marlins' hitters in the eighth and ninth innings combined, which contributed to four more runs scoring, but right-hander Gianni Zayas was able to work past his command struggles to finish out the game for starter Tyler Haswell, who tossed six strong and allowed four runs (just two earned).
Tewes had another RBI in the ballgame, and Bruce was 2-for-2 with a couple of runs and a stolen base.
The first game was played in an hour and 50 minutes, while game two took two hours and 38 minutes to complete. They were played in front of 1,437 fans—the largest home crowd of the season.
The Marlins now sit at 11-24 (6-2 in the second half), and because of a Pilots' win, share possession of first place in the CPL East. They will stay at home Friday against the Wilson Tobs at 7:05 p.m.
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