ASHEBORO, NC July 22, 2014 – A two-run ninth inning broke a seven-all tie Wednesday between the Marlins and Copperheads, propelling Morehead City to a 9-7 win—their third straight win and sixth in the last seven games.
Asheboro reliever Brandon Warren had two outs in the top half of the eighth inning when he surrendered a double to Dalton Britt. That brought Jacob Bruce to the dish, who topped a ball to deep short that was thrown wide to first from Connor Justice, giving the Marlins an 8-7 lead. They tacked on another run one batter later when Nick Lombardi smashed an RBI single of his own, making it a 9-7 game for closer Matt Tindall, who set down the side in order in the ninth to secure the save.
“Championship teams do two things—they play hard and finish strong,” said head coach Sam Carel. “We have played hard all year and now we are starting to finish strong and you are seeing very positive results.”
The two-run ninth was the culmination of a roller-coaster affair that featured four separate lead changes and three separate ties.
Asheboro took the 1-0 lead in the first, and held it until the fifth inning, when the Marlins posted a crooked number against Copperheads’ starter Nick Busto. Busto had allowed only two hits through the first four innings, but imploded in the fifth, yielding six runs to the Marlins. He started off the frame by hitting Jacob Bruce with a pitch and walking Nick Lombardi. Eduardo Castro was able to bunt them both over, setting up Tyler Campbell for a two-RBI single to make it a 2-1 game.
Busto then allowed a single to Andrew Amaro and hit Blake Graham. That brought up Alex Torres, who already had doubled in his Marlins’ debut. Torres laced the third single of the inning, plating two more runs. Cleanup hitter Johnny Caputo added an RBI single of his own, which ended up bringing in an additional run when the Copperheads made two throwing errors on the play.
“Any time you can score six runs in an inning, that is huge,” Carel said.
That fifth inning knocked Busto from the game. He allowed twice as many base runners in the inning than he had allowed in his first four.
The big inning gave right-handed reliever Logan Hershenow a five-run lead, but he was unable to keep the Copperheads from clawing back. He worked a scoreless fourth and fifth, and then surrendered three runs in the sixth on a two-RBI single from Anthony Marks. In the seventh, the Eastern Kentucky product had two runners on with two outs, but All-Star Austin Bossart ripped a two-run double off the glove of Jacob Bruce in right to tie the game.
Those runs were the first Hershenow has given up since June 30 against Wilmington—the last game of the first half. Between then and the single from Marks, Hershenow had 11.2 straight scoreless innings, which is the most by any Marlins’ pitcher this season.
Hershenow had to come one early for Griffin Weir, who lasted three innings. He did struggle early on, walking the bases loaded and allowing a run on a wild pitch in the first. The following frame he hit a batter and walked another.
But despite laboring through the first two, he was able to come back with a 1-2-3 third inning to finish out his night. He only allowed one run in his start and did not allow any hits.
“We would have ran him back out there in the fourth and fifth but we needed him to come back this weekend,” Carel said. “Tonight was supposed to be Hershenow’s start after the rainout but we wanted to get Weir out there because we didn’t want him to sit two weeks before starting this weekend.”
At the dish, Torres was 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run, Britt had three hits in five trips and scored a run, Campbell had two hits and drove in three runs, and Lombardi had two RBI on two hits and scored a run.
With the win and a Peninsula loss, the Marlins are now .5 games up in first because they are ahead by one game in the loss column.
The Marlins will return home on Wednesday to play host to the Edenton Steamers, with first pitch coming at 7:05 p.m. from Big Rock Stadium.
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