Wilmington, NC – For the 17th straight game, the Wilmington Sharks (3-3, 19-14) starting pitcher did not allow more than three earned runs. Saturday night, it was Tim Keller who allowed just one unearned run in a 6-1 win over the Morehead City Marlins (2-5, 12-22).
The right-handed hurler from Texas AM-Corpus Christi was lifted with one out in the seventh inning, allowing just two hits and a walk to that point. A pair of double plays helped Keller face just one batter over the minimum of 18 through six innings, with the only extra being the man who scored after reaching on a dropped third strike. He also left a runner on in the eighth, when Wes Hatley came on in relief.
Aaron Preston laced a one-out triple down the left field line in the first, scoring on a Lloyd Enzor groundout. It was the sixth straight game in which Preston reached in the opening frame.
In the second, Wilmington added two more unearned runs to take a 3-1 lead that would have been enough for the win. Zach Stephens led off the frame with a single in his first at-bat back from missing two-plus weeks surrounding the College Home Run Derby. A Jeff May double moved him to third, then on Cole McInturff’s fly out to left the fielder made an off-line throw that allowed Stephens to cross the plate. May also advanced to third on the play, coming home as Casey Goss extended his hit streak to ten games with an RBI single up the middle.
Just four Sharks runners reached between the second and eighth innings, but a total of six made it at least to first base in the eighth alone. Preston’s second extra-base hit of the night, a double, put him in position to score on a throwing error. Enzor dropped a bunt back towards the mound, but the pitcher sent the throw to third all the way down the left field line in an attempt to knock off Preston. Enzor made it to third on the mistake, then was thrown out on the plate on a play that head coach Ryan McCleney made clear he thought should have been a safe call, as he was ejected for the first time this season. That play was ruled a fielder’s choice for Alex Freedman, following a Scott Coleman walk.
Both Coleman and Freedman scored unearned runs on an RBI hit by Brad Shaban and another miscue in the field on Jeff May’s grounder to third.
Morehead City starter Matt Ogden received credit for a complete game, allowing just one of six runs charged against him to be earned. He surrendered nine hits and a walk, striking out four in the loss.
The Sharks host an exhibition against UNCW alumni to benefit Bryan Britt at 2 p.m. on Sunday, then return to league play on Monday at Morehead City. For more on the Sharks, visit wilmingtonsharks.com, add Sharky Sharks on Facebook and follow @ILMSharks on Twitter.