HAMPTON, VA- On a special day, the Peninsula Pilots honored their 2013 championship team and held off the visiting Morehead City Marlins 5-3 on Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium.
Before the game, members from the 2013 championship team received their rings in a pregame ceremony. With emotions riding high, the Pilots (6-4) received enough offensive firepower and held off the Marlins’ late surge in the ninth inning to claim their second consecutive victory.
Nick Lombardi (Dartmouth) put the Marlins (1-9) ahead with a solo shot over the left field wall in the first inning.
The Pilots responded in the third inning when Garrett Brooks (East Carolina) doubled to right-center to plate two runs to take their first lead of the game. Connor Myers (Old Dominion) singled to right field and stole second base. After Andres Nelo (Lee) drew a walk, Brooks put the Pilots ahead with his double.
The Marlins tied it up in the fifth inning on a double to right field by Blake Graham (Missouri State).
The tie would not last long as the Marlins walked in a run. Myers started the inning with his second hit of the game and stole second once again. After advancing to third on a wild pitch, he was thrown out at home on a fielder’s choice. After the fielder’s choice, three straight Pilots walked with Taylor Ostrich’s (Old Dominion) walk bringing in Nelo to put the Pilots ahead 3-2.
The Pilots struck again in the eighth with some insurance runs. Kyle Johnson (Purdue) led off the inning with a double to right field. After a sacrifice bunt that moved Johnson to third base, Andy Lennington (SE Missouri State) plated Johnson with a double to give the Pilots some breathing room. Sam Tidaback (Ball State) would follow with a single up the middle to give the Pilots a three-run lead going into the ninth. Those insurance runs would prove to be crucial as the Marlins threatened in the ninth.
The Marlins started the inning with back to back singles, although they ran into an out as Tyler Burden (Chowan) was trying to be aggressive and take an extra base on a single. Manny Pazos (Pittsburgh) singled to put two runners on with one out for the Marlins. Morehead City elected to go to the bench and called on pinch hitter, Matt Simmons (Gardner-Webb) to keep the game going. He responded the call with a double down the right field line to close the gap within two but Wes McGuire (Lenoir-Rhyne) got the final two outs with runners on second and third to notch his first save of the season.
Matt Outman (Norfolk State) got the call for the Pilots and he responded with six efficient innings of two-run ball and striking out three, earning his second win of the season. Jordan Brooks (Norfolk State) followed with a scoreless seventh with two strikeouts. Grayson Bailey (Lee) pitched a scoreless eighth and came out to pitch the ninth and was pulled for McGuire to get out of the jam.
Davis Kirkpatrick (East Carolina) started for the Marlins and gave up three runs in 4 2/3 innings pitched with four walks and five strikeouts, putting his record at 0-2 on the year. Logan Hershenow (Eastern Kentucky) pitched the remainder of the game and gave up two runs with three strikeouts.
Connor Myers led the Pilots with a 2-for-4 night with two stolen bases. The Pilots had four stolen bases on the night, extending their league lead in stolen bases to 30 on the year. The Pilots have been successful on the base paths with 30 stolen bases in 33 attempts. Nelo scored two runs and Brooks brought in two runs to give the Pilots their second consecutive home win.
Earlier in the day, three former Pilots were drafted by MLB teams in the 40 round draft that took place over a span of three days. Josh Heddinger (Georgia Tech) who pitched on the team for the last two years was picked by the Detroit Tigers in the 14th round. Later in the draft, Alex Close (Liberty) was selected in the 27th round by the Kansas City Royals and Patrick Grady (Lander) was selected by the Rays in the 33rd round. All three were instrumental in last year’s championship run. The three picks came after Nick Thompson (William & Mary) was selected in the 8th round by the St. Louis Cardinals yesterday.
The Pilots will take a day off on Sunday before a two-game road swing to Wilson and Edenton. The Pilots will have another off day on Wednesday before hosting the Fayetteville SwampDogs on Thursday night for Thirsty Thursday and Bark N’ the Park night! 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).