MOREHEAD CITY— The Morehead City Marlins (24-29, 13-14) needed 12 innings of excruciating baseball on Sunday night at Big Rock Stadium, but were able to finally overcome the Holly Springs Salamanders, 3-2, as Eduardo Castro (Missouri State) delivered the game-winning sacrifice fly scoring Matt Collins (Texas A&M), who began the inning with a leadoff triple that bounced off the left field wall.
"I was trying to put the ball in play," Castro explained after narrowly escaping the team Gatorade bath on the field following the Marlins second walk-off victory of the season. "But it was great. That was a long game out there."
That frustration was evident early on as the Marlins stranded the bases loaded in both the 9th and 10th innings against the Salamanders bullpen, eventually leaving a season-high 16 runners on base. What the Marlins had in reserve was an impressive outing from the bullpen keeping Holly Springs without a hit over the final five innings. Ethan Horne (Mt. Olive) was the first pitcher out of the bullpen throwing 1.2 innings of scoreless relief connecting the dots from Luke Bolka (ECU), who earned his second start of the season lasting 5.1 innings of quality work allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts.
"We felt like our guys were gonna go out there and put up a zero, which took a ton of pressure off our offense," said head coach Jason Wood. That Marlins bullpen recorded 11 strikeouts over the final 6.2 innings of work, featuring seven strikeouts from Zach Reid (Tennessee) alone while recording his Coastal Plain League best 26th appearance of the season. The Marlins initially tied the game up back in the bottom of the 6th inning when Matt Collins delivered an RBI single scoring Chase Stafford.
Trailing 1-0 entering the 4th inning, Chase Stafford (Oral Roberts) crushed his third home run of the season, recording his 10th RBI over the last five calendar days. In a contest where the Marlins only earned 8 hits, the offense pieced together rallies in every inning, never going down in order during any inning, on a night where the Holly Springs Salamanders clinched the fourth and final playoff spot in the East Division by virtue of a loss from the Petersburg Generals. Despite being mathematically eliminated from Petitt Cup contention, the Marlins earned a hard-fought victory over the Salamanders, evening the season series, 2-2.
"We're still playing every game like it is Game 7 of the World Series," said coach Wood, adding that, "We are going to use these final games as motivation and continue to try and win every game that we can."
Justin Weigle (Ouachita Baptist) led the charge with hits in each of his first two at bats, finishing the night with his first three-hit contest of the regular season. Dominick Cammarata (Tennessee) was hit by a pitch in the 11th inning, moving into a three-way tie second place in the CPL with 17 HBP. In a unique twist, coach Jason Wood gave Noah Cummings (Oral Roberts) the chance to play every defensive position swapping between spots each and every inning. Cummings played seven spots, all but pitcher and catcher. Aaron Wilson (Hartford) played an incredible right field, one of three positions he played on the night, turning a double play on a line drive hit directly at him during the 2nd inning while also throwing out a hit-and-run play directly from deep right field to third base with a bullet throw.
The Morehead City Marlins have now matched their win total (24) from the entire 2013 campaign, and will now host the Fayetteville SwampDogs this Monday night for Fan Appreciation Night at Big Rock Stadium with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. during the final contest of the 2015 regular season. For more information on your Morehead City Marlins, continue to explore our website www.mhcmarlins.com, follow our social media accounts on Twitter @mhcmarlins, Instagram @mhcmarlins along with our new Snapchat account @mhcmarlins and make sure to like our MHC Marlins Team Page on Facebook!
The Coastal Plain League is the nation's hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 19th season in 2015, the CPL features 15 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL has 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 via Twitter @CPLBaseball.