MOREHEAD CITY, NC- The Pilots mounted a late comeback to steal a 7-6 victory and keep the Morehead City Marlins winless on Friday night at Big Rock Stadium.
The Pilots (3-1) rallied for two runs in the 8th inning to defeat the Marlins (0-4) for their third road win of the season. With the Pilots trailing by one, Ryan Kilmon (James Madison) knotted the game at six apiece with a double in the gap to score Sam Tidaback (Ball State), who had walked. Khalil Searcy (Jacksonville) walked to put runners on the corners. Searcy attempted to steal second and the Marlins’ defense had a miscommunication on the play allowing Kilmon to score to give the Pilots the 7-6 lead.
Taylor Edens (VMI) came in to close out the 9th for the Pilots. The Marlins tried to mount a rally with singles by Blake Graham (Missouri State) and Quincy Nieporte (Tallahassee CC), who were both 3-for-5 on the night, but Edens struck out Matt Simmons (Gardner-Webb) to get the final out for his second save of the season.
The Pilots were the first team to score for the 4th consecutive game as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Marlins had a chance to bat. Andres Nelo (Lee) and Garrett Brooks (East Carolina) drew walks which set up for Kyle Johnson’s (Purdue) three-run blast to left field to stake the Pilots a three run lead. The Marlins wasted no time getting on the board in the bottom half of the inning. Graham doubled to left and came around to score on Nieporte’s single up the middle to cut the Pilots’ lead to 3-1.
Trailing by two, the Marlins grabbed the lead with a four run 2nd inning aided by a Pilots’ miscue. With two outs and the bases full, Graham reached on an error bringing in two runs for the Marlins. Tyler Burden (Chowan) followed with a two-run single before being thrown out trying to advance on the throw. The Marlins would take a 5-3 lead by scoring four unearned runs in the inning.
The Pilots cut the lead to one by showing their speed on the base paths. Brooks walked and stole two of his three bases on the night. Johnson followed with a walk and stole second allowing Brooks to score on the throw to cut the Marlins’ lead to one.
The Marlins added a run on a fielder’s choice in the 5th to extend their lead to two. The Pilots answered with an RBI groundout by Brooks to cut the Marlins’ lead to 6-5. The Pilots would score two runs in the 8th inning and hold off the Marlins for the victory.
Right-hander Ryan Cook (Richmond) got the nod to start for the Pilots tonight. He battled through to pitch five innings, giving up six runs (two earned), on seven hits and struck out six Marlins. Austin Heenan (VMI) followed in relief dealing two scoreless innings to pick up his first win of the season. Wes McGuire (Lenoir-Rhyne) pitched a perfect 8th inning to set up for Edens to close the game out.
Whitman Barnes (UNC-Wilmington) got the start on the hill for the Marlins and struggled through 2 2/3 innings giving up four runs on three hits and walking three. Jordan Knutson (Missouri State) followed in relief with 3 2/3 innings of hitless ball walking three and striking out five. Daniel Lewis (Pensacola State) was charged with the loss giving up two runs in an inning of relief. Casey Eskew (Florida Southern) threw the last 1 2/3 innings giving up no runs on a hit and a strikeout.
Brooks had a great night for the Pilots as he went 2-for-4 on the night with two runs and three stolen bases. Johnson added a 1-for-4 night with his first hit of the season that staked the Pilots a 3-0 in the first inning. Graham and Neiporte both led the Marlins with 3-for-5 nights. Graham scored three runs in his summer debut. Simmons and Kirk Morgan (East Carolina) added 2-for-4 nights. The Marlins had 11 hits on the night to the Pilots five and both teams left seven on.
The Pilots will return home to face the Wilson Tobs on Saturday night. Saturday’s game will be Paradise Night so be sure to be ready to celebrate with us Hawaiian style! First pitch is set for 7:05pm. 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!
About the Coastal Plain League
The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 18th season in 2014, 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 nearly 1,200 alumni drafted and 68 alums – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut thus far; while another notable alum – Russell Wilson – won Super Bowl XLVIII. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at coastalplain.com and be sure to friend us on Facebook (at www.facebook.com/coastalplainleague) and follow us via Twitter (@CPLBaseball).