The Sharks are one win away from the World Series.

After losing 7-5 in thrilling fashion to the Brockton Rox in their playoff home opener, the boys in purple eked out an equally exciting, 3-2 victory of their own Wednesday night on the Rox home turf.

Home field at the high school is the place to be Thursday night as Sharks battle for a World Series berth. — Timothy Johnson

The win levels the best-of-three series at one game apiece and sets up a winner-take-all rubber match Thursday night at the Shark Tank, beginning at 7 p.m.

In the opener Tuesday, a packed house was treated to one of the most exciting baseball games of the season.

“A few days ago we got 1,800 fans,” general manager Russ Curran said as the game got underway. “I think we’re passed that tonight.”

There was hardly an empty seat in the grandstand.

The Sharks got off to a fast start, opening up the scoring in the bottom of the second inning when catcher from Wheaton College, Nick Raposo, lined a ball just out of the reach of the Brockton third baseman to drive in Jackson Raper. One inning later, the Sharks first baseman from Bucknell, Tyler Wincig, hit what looked to be an innocuous pop-up to right field. That innocuous pop-up found its way onto the regional high school practice field, driving in two runs. The Sharks were up, 3-0.

From that point on, it seemed as though the Sharks weren’t going to look back. Starting pitcher, lefty Brian Ketchie from Catawba College, breezed through the Rox lineup, throwing barely 80 pitches through seven rock-solid innings of one-run baseball.

“They look swell!” Bill Murray, patron saint and part owner of the Sharks, told the Gazette. “Just notice at how the trees bend toward the Sharks dugout. Even the flora and fauna are swaying in their direction.”

Between innings, Russ Curran presented Sharks pitcher and future Vanderbilt freshman Chance Huff with the Best Pitching Prospect in the Futures League Award, and starting center fielder from the University of New Haven, Matt Chamberlain, the League’s best defensive player award.

Super fan and part owner, Bill Murray led the cheering section on Tuesday evening. — Timothy Johnson

“I guess when you have a season like ours, there’s a lot of awards to give out,” Mr. Curran said.

Chance Huff’s parents, Cheri and Chander, made it up from the Florida panhandle to watch the game.

“We had no idea he was getting an award!” said Mr. Huff. “It was nice to see. This is a darn good baseball team.”

When Brian Ketchie came back out for the top of the eighth inning, everything looked like it was going as planned. But a walk to Brockton center-fielder Jared Sharkey put a runner on first, and one batter later the Rox shortstop from Northwestern, Charlie Maxwell, hit a screamer over the right field fence. The game was tied, 3-3.

As they have all season, the Sharks responded to the Brockton homerun in the bottom of the eighth. Under the influence of a Bill Murray-led slow clap, Sharks’ shortstop Kellen Hatheway squeezed a single between the shortstop and third baseman, and Tate Kolwyck from Vanderbilt drove him home with a hit of his own. Everyone in the crowd was on their feet, and the Sharks led 4-3, going into the ninth, with hard-throwing Garret Leonard from Rollins College ready to close it out.

The Rox weren’t going to make it easy. Zack Gelof started the inning with a perfect bunt down the third baseline, and then Northwestern’s Jack Kelly followed that with a sharp single to right. The next batter, Matt Ronai from Merrimack College, struck out looking and was ejected arguing the called third strike. But even with Bill Murray yodels in the background, Brockton’s Kyle Ruth found a hole in the infield to tie the game, and shortstop Charlie Maxwell found a hole in the outfield to give Brockton the lead. The next batter doubled to left, scoring another two runs. By the time Leonard struck out Matt Johnston to end the inning, the Rox led 7-4.

Although the Rox would balk in a run in the bottom of the ninth — prompting another Bill Murray hoop and holler — the Sharks late-inning rally fell short.

Win, lose or draw everyone still needs to race Sharky around the bases. — Timothy Johnson

“We made a pact from the beginning of the season to never lose two games in a row,” Coach Jay Mendez said after the game.

Wednesday night’s game the team made good on the promise but not before some theatrics.

Things looked bleak when Sharks’ ace and winner of the Future’s League’s best pitching prospect award, Chance Huff, yielded two runs in the first inning. But Huff settled down after his rocky start and allowed the Sharks to come storming back. The team scored two runs in the fifth to tie the game, and Huff exited one inning later, holding the Rox at two with five consecutive no-hit frames.

In the eighth, with the game still tied, Sharks pinch-hitter Matt Oldham, a sophomore catcher from Elon, came through with a single to drive in the decisive run. It all seemed eerily similar to Tuesday, when the Sharks also took a one-run lead in the eighth inning and couldn’t close it out.

That wouldn’t be a problem last night. Pitchers Matt Mikulski from Fordham and Conner Hall from Marymount patched together a scoreless eighth and ninth, and the Sharks, with their backs against the wall, could breathe a heavy sigh of relief for one more day.

Coach Jay Mendez is confident the Sharks will prevail in the series. "We have a lot deeper bench than them in terms of arms," he said. "We're barely scratching the service and that should help us win tonight."

With that Shaun Babineau takes the mound tonight for the Sharks.

"We have a lot deepr bench than them in terms of arms," said Coach Jay Mendez. "We're barely scratching the service and that should help us win tonight."