The Marlins held a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth on Thursday against Fayetteville, but fell apart in the inning allowing two runs to score without recording an out as the Swampdogs took the game by a 5-4 score, handing Morehead City their fourth straight loss.
Matt Tindall, who had been three for three in save opportunities, came on to attempt to secure the final three outs for Morehead City.
Tindall allowed the leadoff man Sam Hall to reach by a single, then walked a batter before an error scored the tying run. Shortyl after, a wild pitch—the third of the inning for Tindall—allowed Jacob Whiting to score the winning run.
“It just didn’t work out for us today,” said Marlins’ head coach Sam Carel.
Tindall was the second pitcher used in relief of lefty Jordan Knutson, who got his first start of the season for the Marlins after appearing in 15 games in relief. His last start for any team was during his school season at Missouri State all the way back on March 26 against Arkansas State.
Knutson worked 4.1 innings, and allowed three runs on seven scattered hits. All three of the runs came in the fifth inning, with two of them scoring on an RBI double from Jason Blum, and the other on a base hit from Michael Bozarth.
Knutson had allowed a base runner in each inning, but pitched extremely effectively through the first four. He faced four batters in each of the first three innings and faced the minimum in the fourth with the help of a ground ball double play.
“Knutson got ahead of guys very early in the count, attacked guys and had some innings where he threw very few pitches, and that is the sign of a quality start,” Carel said.
The 4.1 innings were two thirds of an inning more than Knutson’s previous season high, which came back on June 15 at home against the Gastonia Grizzlies.
Left-hander Whitman Barnes aided Knutson and kept it a 3-3 tie, as he inherited two of Knutson’s runners in the fifth inning and worked out of the frame without allowing either to score.
The New Bern native then worked a scoreless sixth and seventh, recording five of his six outs via strikeout. Those five strikeouts tie a season high for Barnes, last accomplished on June 19 against Wilmington.
Barnes ended up working 3.2 innings total and allowed just two base runners—a one out walk in the sixth and a two out walk in the eighth, which was erased on caught stealing. Barnes has now worked 18.2 innings in relief and has posted a 1.45 ERA in those 18.2 innings to go along with 26 strikeouts.
“In the second half of the year Whitman has really done a great job for us out of the bullpen,” Carel said.
Fayetteville’s starter Hasten Freeman, who had also been used primarily as a reliever, was called upon to make his second start of the season in now 12 overall appearances. Freeman worked through six strong innings and allowed three runs on just two hits.
Two of those runs came in the first inning when Alex Torres scored on a Nick Lombardi double, and then Lombardi scored when Dalton Britt drove him home with a single.
Lombardi finished the day 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run, Alex Torres had two walks, a hit by pitch and two runs, and Jacob Bruce had a triple and RBI in the game.
The Marlins will play the Swampdogs again Thursday in a doubleheader at Big Rock Stadium. First pitch of game one is scheduled for 6:05 p.m.
“We have to come back tomorrow and be ready to go in the doubleheader,” Carel said. “We still have a shot to win this series. If we come out ready to play tomorrow we will be fine.”
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