Wilson, N.C.—3,722 fans decked out in red, white and blue, packed historic Fleming Stadium for tonight’s Independence Day contest between the Morehead City Marlins and Wilson Tobs on Thomas & Farris Fireworks night and they were almost treated to the best finale possible, but the Tobs’ comeback bid fell just short, losing 6-4.
Braden Bristo started out on the mound for the Tobs and things got off to a rocky start before he started battling back in a big way. Andrew Amaro doubled just four pitches into the game and after a popout by Blake Graham, Nick Lombardi singled into center to drive home Amaro and give the Marlins the early 1-0 lead. They would load the bases with one out as Bristo managed to hit the next batter and allow a single. However, Bristo struck out both Kyle Carroll and Eduardo Castro to end the inning, stranding the bases loaded.
Things would not get much easier for Bristo in the second inning as his slider kept working, but it led him into some trouble. He actually struck out the first batter of the inning, Trent Leimkuhler, but Leimkuhler reached when the 1-2 slider from Bristo dove into the dirt, away from the bat of Leimkuhler, but also around the block of catcher Matt Rubino and to the backstop. Bristo walked Tyler Campbell in the next at bat and gave up a single to Amaro to make the score 2-0 Marlins. They tacked on another one with a sacrifice fly from Lombardi… and despite the two RBI in as many at bats, it would not be the last time Lombardi made the Tobs pay.
Although Bristo ran into trouble in the first couple of innings, all three of his pitches (fastball, slider, and changeup) were working and he started to settle down as the night moved along. The problem was, the Tobs’ batters were completely ineffective against the Marlins’ starter, Tyler Thorne.
Thorne, the Freshmen from Stanford University went five innings of scoreless baseball while allowing just one hit and striking out seven. The Tobs did manage to load the bases against him in the third, but Seth LaRue’s screamer to center was right at Leimkuhler and Thorne was able to avert any further danger.
With Bristo continuing to strike out Marlins (nine through the first six innings), the Tobs were finally able to do some damage against the Marlins when they went to their bullpen. Sam Carel, head coach of the Marlins, decided to go with another Cardinal arm in the sixth inning and chose Chris Viall. However, Viall did not record a single out.
Drew Cole singled into left center field in the first at bat of the sixth and Viall hit LaRue to put guys on first and second with nobody out for Ben Schmucker. Schmucker took the third pitch of his at bat and singled to center, driving home Cole, but the throw from Leimkuhler was wide of third as he was trying to get LaRue going from first to third. The throw got by Tyler Campbell and rolled to the Tobs dugout along the third base side, allowing LaRue to get up and score and sending Schmucker all the way to third base in what was now a 3-2 game.
Matthew Parrish continued his hot hitting with a single to knot the game at three a piece, ending the night for Viall. Carel then looked to Logan Hershenow to quiet down the Tobs as Justin Hay, head coach of the Tobs, used the speedy Adam Pate as a pinch-runner at first. It immediately paid dividends as Pate was able to nab second, but he got greedy and just one pitch after stealing second, tried to take third and was thrown out by Eduardo Castro by a couple of feet, essentially suffocating the rally for the Tobs.
Bristo maintained his dominance on the mound in the seventh, picking up his tenth strikeout in a 1-2-3 inning, achieving the Tobs’ first ten strikeout game of the season in the process. He had thrown 119 pitches after seven, but was only getting stronger so Hay put him back out on the mound for the eighth inning.
It looked to be the right move as Bristo forced a lazy ground ball to third, but Doug Teegarden botched the play, allowing Leimkuhler to reach. The Marlins went small ball and bunted him up to second before Bristo walked Amaro despite being up in the count 1-2.
Hay kept Bristo in the game as he seemed to be getting better with each pitch, but his 137th offering of the night was a fastball that bounded up the middle off of the bat of Blake Graham, giving the Marlins a 4-3 lead. Hay took Bristo out with two men on base and called upon Michael Wilson to try and staunch the bleeding, but he immediately gave up a ground ball double down the left field line, which pushed across two more Marlins runs and making it a 6-3 lead.
With the crowd behind them in the bottom of the ninth inning the Tobs tried to mount a comeback off of Marlins’ closer Casey Eskew. Eskew, who had yet to allow an earned run on the season gave up a lead off single to Rubino on the seventh pitch of the at bat, but got Matt Rembielak and Justin Carroll in the next two at bats to take the Tobs down to their final out.
Doug Teegarden though would try to make up for his error in the eighth with a walk in the ninth, putting the tying run at the plate in the person of Zach Callahan. Callahan swung at the first pitch and Castro interfered with the swing, getting called for the catcher’s interference by home plate umpire Vincent Jackson, thus loading the bases for the Tobs with the two outs.
Drew Cole followed and walked on a 3-2 pitch, sending the fans to their feet as the tying run was now at second and the potential winning run at first. It was up to Seth LaRue and for the second time on the night with the bases loaded, LaRue put great wood on the ball, but the Fleming Stadium air, which usually sees balls carry very well, pulled the well struck ball down, landing in the mitt of Leimkuhler and snuffing out the Tobs’ rally and evening.
Logan Hershenow picked up the win for the Marlins by delivering three shutout inning so baseball and picking up two strikouts, improving his recond to 3-1. Braden Bristo was the tough luck loser as he went 7.1 innings pitched, allowing nine hits, six runs (five earned), walking two and striking out out ten. Casey Eskew grabbed his third win of the season for the Marlins who won for the first time on the road this season.
The Tobs will travel to Edenton tomorrow to finish off their week against the CPL leading Edenton Steamers before having Sunday off. The next home game at Fleming Stadium will be on Monday as Fleming hosts the Friendship Series game between Team USA and Team Japan. If you haven’t purchased tickets for the game, please call the Tobs office at (252) 291-8627 or visit wilsontobs.com. Be sure to follow us @wilsontobs and like us on facebook www.facebook.com/wilsontobs.
The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 18th season in 2014, the CPL features 14 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 had over 1,200 alumni drafted and 69 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