HAMPTON, Va. – Drake McNamara delivered the go-ahead home run and the Peninsula Pilots pulled away for a 9-5 win over the Holly Springs Salamanders on Thursday night at War Memorial Stadium.
Tied at five in the seventh inning, Drake McNamara (Southern Indiana) delivered a liner that barely cleared the left-field wall to put the Pilots on top 6-5. The team scored three insurance runs in the eighth inning to have a cushion. Colt Harlow (James Madison) was instrumental in the win by delivering five innings and gave up an unearned run and striking out eight to improve to 5-2 on the season.
Jackson Wark (St. Louis) tossed a scoreless ninth to clinch the 30th victory of the season. The win allows the Pilots to reach the 30-win mark for the fourth time in the past five seasons.
As the season winds down this week and both teams are making their playoff push, the teams battled back and forth in the first couple innings.
Holly Springs (24-28, 13-11) got on the scoreboard in the first inning without getting a hit. Walks to Cory Wood (Coastal Carolina) and Adam Sisk (James Madison) set up the first run of the game as Wood scored on a RBI ground out by Dalton Hoiles (Shippensburg).
Peninsula (30-22, 14-10) wasted no time in responding as they plated two runs to take the lead. Logan Augustine (Lincoln Memorial) reached on a single and moved to second on a walk to McNamara. After a ground out advanced the runners, Jonathan Embry (Liberty) drew a walk to load the bases. Drew Delsignore (Mercyhurst) hit an opposite single to right field to score Augustine and McNamara for a 2-1 lead.
Holly Springs used a solo home run by Zach Tondi (James Madison) that landed in the visitor’s bullpen to tie the game at two.
Continuing the back and forth affair, the Pilots tied the game in the bottom of the frame. Nathan Eaton (VMI) drew a four pitch walk to start the inning. A wild pitch moved Eaton to second before a ground out advanced Eaton to third. A single up the middle by Ruben Someillan (Jacksonville) put the Pilots back on top 3-2.
The Salamanders used two runs in the third inning to retake the lead. Hoiles led off the inning with a solo home run off the scoreboard in left-center to knot the game at three apiece. Jacob Jaye (VMI) followed with a walk and came around to score on Dominick Cammarata’s (Charlotte) double down the left-field line to go ahead 4-3.
Peninsula knotted things at four when Matt Schneider (Mercyhurst) delivered a sacrifice fly to score Augustine, who drew a leadoff walk.
After both teams were held scoreless for the first time in the ballgame in the fourth inning, Peninsula put a tally on the scoreboard in the fifth inning. Augustine reached base for the third time with a one-out double to left-center and came around to score on Schneider’s second sacrifice fly of the night.
Holly Springs immediately tied things in the sixth when Tondi hit a leadoff double and advanced to third on a wild pitch then scored when Delsignore’s throw bounced off his back which allowed Tondi to score.
Peninsula threatened in the sixth inning but left the bases loaded. The Salamanders also threatened with bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning but Eaton turned a double play to end the threat.
McNamara delivered a scorching liner that cleared the wall to the visitor’s bullpen to give the Pilots a 6-5 lead.
The Pilots grabbed a few insurance runs in the eighth inning to have some breathing room. Kyle Wrighte (William & Mary) legged out a one-out double. Someillan delivered an opposite field single to load the bases. A safety squeeze by Buddy Johnson (Southern Indiana) scored Wrighte for a 7-5 lead. An error and a wild pitch allowed two more runs to provide the Pilots a four-run cushion.
The Pilots hit the road for a matchup against Morehead City on Friday night before returning home to host Edenton in their regular season home finale.
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The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s premier summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 21st season in 2017, the CPL features 15 teams playing in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL has had nearly 1,300 alumni drafted and 97 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 www.coastalplain.com and follow us via Twitter @CPLBaseball.