Marlins tame Wildcats - Sixth graders become power players for a big finish

Destin's Noah Bailey heads to first base after putting down a bunt sacrifice in the first inning.

A seventh inning blast from sixth grader Nolan Berry put the Destin Marlins on top 8-5 for a road victory over the Meigs Wildcats in middle school baseball Monday afternoon in Shalimar.

With two runners on base, Berry came off the bench and smacked a hit deep to centerfield to knock in two runs. Not slowing down on the bases, Berry kept running as the ball went past the fielder, beating out the throw to the plate for a 7-5 go ahead.

Not finished yet, Destin's Carter Lurk singled to right and Harrison Brice walked. Cameron Gagliano, another sixth grader, checked in and ripped a single to left for an RBI to put Destin up 8-5.

"You make substitutions as a coach and some times you look like a fool and then sometimes you bring a sixth grader off the bench, and he burns everybody in the park ... and he knocks in three runs," said Destin Coach Brian McDaniel. "And the next sixth grader you bring in does the same thing and knocks in a run late in the game.”

"That was good ... overcoming adversity and scoring five runs late, considering we had left several base runners on early," he added.

Destin drew first blood in the game with a run in the first inning. Matt Boswell walked and scored on a single to right from Chandler Carlyle.

The Marlins held the Wildcats in check in the first inning, but gave up a run on an error in the second for a tie game.

In the top of the fourth, Destin edged ahead with a triple up the middle by Nick Sherer. Sherer scored on a groundout by Lurk.

Meigs put three runs on the board in the bottom of the fourth on a couple of hits and an error. Brycen Mitchem and Ian Theriault were credited with singles and the Wildcats went ahead 4-2.

Destin got one run back in the top of the fifth. Boswell walked and moved around the bases on a couple of wild pitches for the score.

In the sixth inning, Meigs put another run on the board on hits from Cole Crews and Marcus Maloy for a 5-3 advantage.

In the top of the seventh with one out, Destin's Noah Bailey walked and Jason Shirley reached on an error. Carlyle ripped a double down the left field line to score Bailey. Up next, Berry slapped his shot to centerfield and the rest is history.

"We got down because we made some miscues on defense," McDaniel said. "But we kept ourselves in the game because Matt threw the ball well again."

Boswell threw six innings, gave up four hits and struck out 11 batters. Shirley came in and closed out the game in the seventh with three strikeouts and one hit.

"It was a great win for us," McDaniel said. "In the second, third and fourth we got the leadoff in scoring position with nobody out and we didn't push them across. The bottom didn't put the ball in play; that's why I made a couple of substitutions late in the game to give some guys a try.

"Hats off to the finish," McDaniel said.

The Marlins, 2-0, play host to St. Mary's at 4 p.m. Wednesday.