HAMPTON, VA- The Peninsula Pilots capped off the record setting 2013 season with the ultimate goal: the Petitt Cup Championship.
The Pilots won their first Petitt Cup in team history. The Pilots were making their third appearance in the finals after the Pilots were knocked out the previous two times. This year, the players had aspirations to be the first Pilots family to claim the title. They clinched with two one-run victories over the reigning champions, Columbia Blowfish. Now the Pilots are the reigning champions.
Along with the Petitt Cup Championship, the Pilots also set a team record of most wins in a season, surpassing the record of 38 set in the 2009 season. The record book will be rewritten with the 2013 team going 39-24 overall, the most wins in team history.
This season was one of the most successful seasons in the history of the Peninsula Pilots. War Memorial Stadium had the opportunity of hosting 28 regular season home games along with an exhibition matchup against the USA Collegiate National Team and hosting the All-Star Game Weekend as well as four playoff games. The All-Star Festivities consisted of hosting the CPL Hitter’s Challenge as well as the CPL All-Star Game.
As you read below, a brief summary is provided of the record-setting season in many words. Every single member of the Pilots organization contributed to the amazing season.
The Pilots’ season in review:
Regular Season Record: 33-22 (14-13 in 1st half, 19-9 in 2nd half) 19-8 HOME, 14-14 AWAY
Playoff Record: 6-2 (2-1 over Wilmington, 2-1 over Edenton, 2-0 over Columbia) 4-0 HOME, 2-2 AWAY
Overall Record: 39-24 (23-8 HOME, 16-16 AWAY)
The Pilots finished with a .600 winning percentage in the regular season, which was good for 4th in the CPL behind Asheboro, Columbia, and Edenton.
The Pilots finished 3rd in the CPL in overall batting average with .259. Jordan Negrini (Old Dominion) finished 4th in the CPL with a .329 batting average. Five Pilots finished with 20 or more RBIs. Negrini led the team with 27 RBI, followed by Bradon Reitano (Mount Olive) with 26, Josh Silver (Lee) with 25, Alex Close (Liberty) with 23 and Bill Cullen (Virginia Commonwealth) with 22.
The Pilots hit 19 homeruns all season with Cullen leading the team with five dingers, including a stretch where he hit a homerun in four straight games. The team finished 1st in the CPL with 17 triples with Cullen and Negrini each legging out three.
The Pilots finished 2nd in the CPL with 121 stolen bases, behind Columbia, who had 125. Four Pilots had ten or more stolen bases. Reitano led the team with 24 stolen bases, followed by Garrett Brooks (East Carolina) with 22, Bret Blevins (Concord) with 19, and Negrini with ten.
The Pilots finished 6th in the CPL with a cumulative ERA of 3.46. The bullpen led the league in saves with 18, Ryan Cook (Richmond) notching eight of them, which is the most in the league.
Coach Morgan was a proponent of a system of pitchers throwing up to a certain pitch limit to keep arms fresh. Because of that system, 11 pitchers made at least two starts. Jared Lyons (Liberty) and Justin Bhatti (Norfolk State) led the team in wins, with five apiece. Brandon Vick (Longwood) led the team with a 1.17 ERA.
The Pilots had the opportunity of playing the USA Collegiate National Team in an exhibition match in the middle of June at War Memorial Stadium. The Pilots were the first team to face Team USA on their tour around the Coastal Plain League before playing Cuba. After a two hour rain delay, the Pilots held Team USA to only one run on nine hits. Unfortunately for the Pilots, that’s all they would need as Team USA claimed a 1-0 victory over the Pilots.
The CPL All-Star Game made its way to War Memorial Stadium in Hampton, Virginia for the 2013 season. The teams consisted of players from the East Division against the West Division. A total of four players from the Pilots were voted to the CPL All-Star Game representing the East Division All-Stars. The four players named were: C Scott Burkett (Longwood), 3B Jordan Negrini (Old Dominion), RHP Ryan Cook (Richmond), and RHP Josh Heddinger (Georgia Tech). Head Coach Hank Morgan was also named as an assistant coach to the East Division led by Bryan Hill, from the Edenton Steamers.
Burkett was named the starting catcher, and Negrini was named the starting third baseman. However, an injury kept Negrini out for participating in the game. Cook and Heddinger each pitched an inning for the East Division All-Stars.
The CPL All-Star Game was a thriller as it went 10 innings before a winner could be decided. West was leading 2-1 before East tied up the game in the bottom of the 9th, forcing extra innings. Nick Christopher, representing the Petersburg Generals, walked off with a RBI single in the 10th inning to make East the 3-2 winners. Scott Burkett actually was awarded the win when he pitched a scoreless 10th inning.
The Pilots were awarded the #2 seed in the East for the CPL Playoffs. The four top teams in each division advanced to the Petitt Cup Playoffs. The Pilots matched up with the Wilmington Sharks in the first round in a best-of-three series. The Pilots played on the road in Game 1 in Wilmington and had a 4-2 lead in the 8th before the Sharks came back with a 5-4 victory. Games 2 and 3 were at home, where the Pilots were 19-8 in the regular season. Game 2 was much better as the Pilots jumped out to a 5-0 lead and held on for a 6-2 victory to tie the series. The rubber match was much tighter as the Pilots led 2-0 before the Sharks tied it in the 7th. The Pilots scored six runs in the 7th, capped by a Cullen three run homerun, to pull away and clinch the series with an 8-2 victory.
In the second round, the Pilots faced off with longtime rival, Edenton. The first game was at home where the Pilots were comfortable and it showed with a 9-0 victory. In Game 2 at Edenton, where the Steamers only lost three games all year, the Steamers weren’t going to make it easy for the Pilots as they scored five runs in the 1st inning en route to an 8-4 victory forcing Game 3. In the rubber match, Burkett broke a 1-1 tie with a two-run double and the Pilots held on for a 4-1 victory to advance to the Petitt Cup Championship for the 3rd time in team history.
The Pilots won the Petitt Cup with a sweep of the Columbia Blowfish with two extra inning wins, 5-4 at home and 2-1 on the road.
Top 10 Games of Season:
In every season there are those games that define your season. The Pilots had many but these are the top 10 games of the season. Your list may be different than ours!
10. July 19th at War Memorial Stadium against the Edenton Steamers
A win is always a good sign for a team, but a win against your rivals is a great sign! The Pilots and Steamers matched up for a total of 12 times in the regular season. The Steamers led the series 6-2 coming into the game. The Pilots said no more. The Steamers scored three runs in the 1st inning on a homerun and the first thought was a long ball game was going to happen that night. The Pilots had other ideas. They stormed back with three runs in the bottom half and pounded out 15 hits en route to a 10-5 victory. The fans were screaming with victory and there’s nothing better than a big win against a rival at home.
9. July 1st at War Memorial Stadium against the Edenton Steamers
In the first game of the 2nd half, the two rivals matched up at War Memorial Stadium. The Pilots scored three runs in the first inning and held on for a 4-3 victory. This victory was important as it was the first of a seven game winning streak to start the second half for the Pilots. The Pilots would go on to win 19 of the next 24 games.
8. July 22nd at War Memorial Stadium against the Columbia Blowfish
This would be the only time these two teams would meet in the regular season. Columbia was fighting for the #1 seed in the West Division and the Pilots were streaking. This game would be important as the Pilots won 5-2 because it would be Coach Morgan’s 200th win with the Pilots.
7. June 20th at War Memorial Stadium against the Fayetteville SwampDogs
A marathon game, that lasted four and a half hours and went fifteen innings, ended around midnight with a walk-off single by Taylor Ostrich (Old Dominion). The Pilots led 2-1 after three innings before Fayetteville tied in the top of the 9th. In the 15th inning, with two runners on and two outs, Ostrich lined a single to left field allowing Patrick Grady to score from second base and make the Pilots 3-2 winners. The two teams combined for 16 hits and 32 strikeouts, but the most important hit went to Ostrich.
6. July 7th and 8th at War Memorial Stadium for CPL All-Star Fan Fest
Of course, one of the biggest events of the year took place at War Memorial Stadium; it should be on the list of best games of the season. It was a spectacular weekend, starting with the CPL Hitting Challenge on Sunday night. 12 players took part in the Hitting Challenge, each representing a charity. Over 50 homeruns were hit, with Adam Kirsch from Edenton grabbing the crown with 22 homeruns. The best parts of the night? We had a trampoline out in left-center. We had a crane hanging over the left field wall. We had a dunk tank in right center along with other targets for the hitters to gain points for their charities. There wasn’t a crane catch, but there was a trampoline one and a dunk tank smash!
The All-Star game itself was an amazing atmosphere. The game went 10 innings and was almost in danger of ending in a tie. You can’t end an All-Star game in a tie! A position player earned the win for the East, and what’s better than a walk-off win in an All-Star Game?
5. June 22nd at War Memorial Stadium against Team USA
Although this game was an exhibition game, it was a great moment for the 2013 season. The stadium was packed, even after a two hour rain delay, until the final out was recorded. Team USA was on their first Collegiate Summer Tour of the season and Hampton was the first stop. The Pilots kept it close but Team USA only need one run to win with Team USA winning 1-0.
4. August 11th at War Memorial Stadium against the Edenton Steamers
It’s no surprise that another Pilots/Steamers game made the list of top games of the season. In the first game of the East Division Championships, the Steamers came into Hampton thinking that because they owned the regular season series 9-3, it would be an easy series. The Pilots definitely had other ideas. The Pilots rolled to an easy 9-0 victory and put the Steamers’ season in jeopardy. What’s better than a win? A win against your rivals, but what’s even better than that? A win against your rivals in the playoffs!
3. August 13th at Historic Hicks Field against the Edenton Steamers
The Steamers had lost three home games all season. The Pilots were 15-15 on the road. The statistics definitely pointed in favor of Edenton, especially after an Edenton victory the night before. It was the rubber match of the series and the winner would advance to the Petitt Cup Championships. A close ball game for six inning before Scott Burkett drilled a two-run double in the 7th inning to take a 3-1 lead. The Pilots would add an insurance run to make it 4-1. The Steamers made it tough but a Brandon Vick strikeout with two runners on in the 9th sealed the 4-1 victory and ultimately, the series. What’s better than a series win? A win against your rivals that ends their season and your team advances to the Petitt Cup Championships!
2. August 15th at War Memorial Stadium against the Columbia Blowfish
This is Game 1 of the Petitt Cup Championship held at War Memorial Stadium. The Pilots led 4-1 into the 8th inning and were cruising to victory until Blowfish Connor Lewis made the stadium silent with a tying three-run homerun. The Pilots walked off in the 10th inning with an Alex Close single off the left field wall to score Bradon Reitano for the 5-4 victory. It was an amazing game to finish the home slate and take a 1-0 lead in the series.
1. August 17th at Capital City Stadium against the Columbia Blowfish
After a rainout forced the CPL to make the two teams play a possible doubleheader with two seven-inning games to determine the 2013 Champions, the Pilots and Blowfish faced off in Game 2. After a scoreless three innings, the Pilots struck first with a RBI single by Josh Silver. Columbia tied it up in the bottom half. For the second straight game, extra innings had to be played to determine a champion. Again the Pilots would be the winners with a game winning sacrifice fly by Jordan Negrini to give the Pilots a 2-1 lead before Aaron Myers shut down the order in the bottom half. The win gave the Pilots their first Petitt Cup Championship in team history!
The Pilots couldn’t have had a successful season without the front office and the coaching staff. Head Coach, Hank Morgan, won his 200th game of his Pilots career with the victory over Columbia on July 22nd. Chris Oschenfeld has taken on the duty as the pitching coach for the Pilots. Matt Mitchell and Patrick Long man the bases for the Pilots when they bat. Mike Moore and David Mitchell are two other coaches that help the Pilots. Those six coaches helped the Pilots achieve one of the best seasons in history.
Henry and Sue Morgan, and Jeffrey Scott lead the front office as Owner and General Manager, respectively. You know that man who takes all those wonderful pictures? Mr. Ralph Wood! Awesome photographer and even an awesome man! The Pilots had nine interns helping the team over the summer. The interns had big responsibilities in preparing for game days and handling in game activities. Without Chelsea, Elizabeth, Gabby, Jackson, Jonathan, Kendall, Taryn, Taylor, and Whitney, it would have been a long season! Along with the interns, the Game Day Staff was an important part of the games! Contributing in all of the fun is Perry Woods, the public announcer, Frank Edgar, broadcaster, and Wesley Kempton, who helped Frank with commentary. We couldn’t forget the men and women who volunteered in the concession stand with Ted Quinn and the PCU John Warner members. Thank you for all your help!
See you all next season with the Peninsula Pilots! Remember, Go Pilots!
For more information regarding the season, please visit www.peninsulapilots.com. For up to the minute details on Pilots Baseball be sure to “Like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @PeninsulaPilots. Use the #PilotsNation to spread the word about the Pilots!
The Peninsula Pilots are a proud member of the Coastal Plain League, entering their 13th season in the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 17th season in 2013, the CPL features 14 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. Furthermore, the CPL has had over 1,000 alumni drafted and 62 alums – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut thus far. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at www.coastalplain.com, and be sure to friend us on Facebook (at www.facebook.com/coastalplainleague) and follow us via Twitter (@CPLBaseball).