FLORENCE, S.C.—Alex Kowalczyk gave the Marlins the hit they desperately needed, a sharp hit-and-run triple into the right center field gap, finishing off an incredible 7-6 come-from-behind win over the Florence RedWolves.
The Marlins (4-5) struggled early, falling behind 5-2 after the opening frame. Fighting their way back all night long, the Marlins had a runner at second with two outs setting the stage for the University of Pittsburgh product, who crushed a 3-2 fastball into the right center gap for their first lead of the night.
"After I got that first single, I found the barrel," Kowalczyk said of his first hit, that propelled a 3-4 night at the plate. "And then I started to get the feeling back. After that, it was really about trying to barrel things up."
Despite entering the contest with a five-game losing streak, the Marlins fought their way back into an impressive road victory over the leaders in the West Division on Saturday night. The Marlins recorded a season-high 13 hits, overcame leaving 13 runners on base, and needed another dramatic comeback. That was also their fourth win in come-from-behind fashion this season. However, the Marlins jumped out to an early 2-0 lead on a RBI single from Kowalczyk. The ball squirted away from Matt Williams, allowing two runs to score on the play as coach Wood aggressively sent Brandon Montgomery to the plate.
But in order to complete the comeback. the Marlins rested on the strength of their bullpen. Grant Gavin (Central Missouri) struggled with his control in the first inning, exiting after allowing four runs while recording just one out.
Following a dreadful half inning with two errors, one hit batter sprinkled around a couple of walks, the Marlins danced out of the first trailing by just three. While the formula seemed destined for another tough loss, the Marlins got over the hump thanks to some timely hitting and an outstanding performance from the bullpen.
"The attitude in our dugout, the whole game really, was that we are not gonna lose this game," said head coach Jason Wood.
Although things certainly did not come easy for the Marlins as they stranded five runners in the next two innings, keeping the score 5-2 heading into the fourth. The winning formula started with Daniel McCrary (West Georgia), who both limited the damage and pitched 3.2 innings of relief allowing zero earned runs.
Then insert Keller Bradford (University of Louisiana Monroe), the son of former MLB pitcher Chad Bradford. The fellow submarine pitcher does not drop as low as his father, but was equally effective. Bradford went 3.1 innings giving up just one hit, striking out two, keeping the RedWolves at bay in the middle innings.
"You throw strikes and that's the easiest way to get people out," said Bradford. "Hopefully we can get on a little role now."
That opened the gates for the Marlins' offense as they struck for three big runs in the 5th inning. The scoring got started with a one out, two-RBI double over the head of the center fielder from Keyshawn D'Orso (Norfolk State), cutting the lead in half. The very next inning, the Marlins scratched and clawed another run across the plate, making it 6-5, on a RBI double from Logan Sherer (UNC Charlotte), who collected his fourth multi-hit game in the process.
In otherwise a strange twist, the Marlins went down 1-2-3 only once over the entire game, that was during the 7th inning featuring three strikeouts. Otherwise the Marlins were threatening every inning thanks to an incredible 4-5 effort from three-hole hitter Brandon Montgomery (Memphis). Matt Collins (Texas A&M) collected his second three-hit game of the season, recording three singles on the night. Max Herrmann (Rutgers) then threw a scoreless inning of relief setting the stage for Tyler Gunnin (West Georgia), who tied the CPL league with his third save of the season.
The Coastal Plain League is the nation's hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 19th season, the CPL features 15 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. The CPL has also had over 1,200 alumni drafted and 79 of those – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut; while another notable alum - Russell Wilson - won Super Bowl XLVIII. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at www.coastalplain.com and follow us @mcmarlins.