HAMPTON, Va.- The Peninsula Pilots defeated the Morehead City Marlins 8-3 in the first round of the Coastal Plain League playoffs Wednesday night at War Memorial Stadium.
The Pilots will face the Wilson Tobs, who were 14-1 winners over Wilmington, on Friday night at War Memorial Stadium for a spot in the CPL Petitt Cup Championships next week.
Eight Pilots got hits in this game, with Nick Walker (Old Dominion), Will Shepherd (Liberty), and Kyle Wrighte (William & Mary) providing six of the Pilots’ eight runs. All three men batted 1-for-4, but they were productive at-bats, with each player carding two RBIs.
Morehead City got off to a quick start in the first inning, scoring two runs. Tyler Weyenburg (Presbyterian) reached second base on a grounder down the first baseline that skipped off the top of the base. After advancing to third base on a ground out from Matthew Batten (Quinnipiac), Weyenburg crossed home on a Pilots error. Christian Campbell (Rutgers), who hit the error-inducing fly ball to left field, advanced to second base on the play and crossed home in the next at-bat on a single from Romeo Cortina (St. Edwards).
The Pilots cut the Marlins’ lead in half in the first inning. Walker led off with a walk, then advanced to second and third bases on a wild pitch and a failed pick-off attempt, respectively. Shepherd scored Walker on a ground out to second base, making the score 2-1 after one inning.
The Marlins again touched the scoreboard in the second inning. Matt O’Neill (Pennsylvania) singled to lead off the inning, then Brandon Shaffer smacked a single to center field to move O’Neill to second base. Justin Weigle (Ouachita Baptist) then crushed a double to the right center field gap, bringing home O’Neill and giving Morehead City a 3-1 lead.
After trading zeroes and squandering a few chances, the Pilots broke the game wide open in the sixth inning, using their electric offense to catapult them into the lead. Kyle McPherson (James Madison) got on base with one out on a single to shortstop, then advanced to second base on a single from Charlie Cody (Virginia). Franco Guardascione (Jacksonville) loaded the bases with a walk in the next at-bat, setting the stage for Wrighte. With two strikes and having the fans behind his back, Wrighte pulled a single into left field, plating McPherson and Cody to tie the game at three. The Pilots would not be satisfied with a mere tie, however, and Walker would make sure of this with a two-run double that scored Guardascione and Wrighte. Shepherd, exhibiting his usual, season-long clutch hitting, yanked a single through the left side to bring in Walker and make the score 6-3. Shepherd crossed home on a single from Kurt Sinnen (Old Dominion), and to put the cherry on top of the go-ahead inning, Darian Carpenter (Virginia Commonwealth) hooked a double up the left field line to bring in Sinnen. All in all, the Pilots scored seven runs in the inning, and would maintain their 8-3 lead until the end of the game.
Devin Mahoney (Saint Louis) tossed an absolute gem for the Pilots. Coming in for relief for starter Chris Gau (Jacksonville), Mahoney threw 5 and 2/3 shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out a beastly seven while earning the win in the process. Mahoney is now 6-0 on the season, one of the brightest stars on this Pilots’ pitching staff. With Mahoney’s arm growing tired in the ninth inning, Michael Parmentier (Norfolk State) finished off the final out of the game, getting his second save of the season.
With the win, the Pilots advance to play Wilson on Friday night at War Memorial Stadium. They are looking to pack the house to try to one-up the already raucous crowd that came out for Wednesday night’s game. 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 and Instagram @PeninsulaPilots. Use the #PilotsNation to spread the word about the Pilots!