HAMPTON, Va. – The Peninsula Pilots held off the Wilson Tobs 5-3 on Friday night at War Memorial Stadium to advance to their third Petitt Cup Finals in the past four seasons.
The win in the East Division Finals sets up a first time matchup between the Pilots and the Savannah Bananas, the Coastal Plain League’s newest franchise. The best-of-three series begins on Sunday night in Savannah with games two and three taking place at War Memorial Stadium on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
The two teams held each other scoreless before the Pilots struck first with two runs in the fourth. Kurt Sinnen (Old Dominion) reached on a lead-off walk. A couple batters later, Kyle McPherson (James Madison) hit a single that ricocheted off the pitcher and went to the outfield. Charlie Cody (Virginia) followed with a single to right-center to put the Pilots on the board. With McPherson advancing to third on the play, Hunter Taylor (South Carolina) followed with a single through the left side to give the Pilots an early 2-0 advantage.
The Pilots extended their slim lead to five with a three-run fifth inning. Nathan Eaton (VMI) led off the inning with a solo home run, his first dinger of the season, down the left field foul pole. Nick Walker (Old Dominion) followed with a walk prompting a visit to the mound by the Tobs. After a pop out, Sinnen hit a ball to left-center that was originally called a home run by the umpires but after further review, Sinnen settled for a triple to score Walker. Darian Carpenter (VCU) followed with a RBI ground out to score Sinnen and the home team had a solid 5-0 lead.
With Colin Nowak (Southern Indiana) cruising through five innings, the Tobs finally were able to muster something against the right-hander. Cameron Balego (Mercyhurst) and Jack Larsen (UC-San Diego) belted back-to-back home runs to lead off the sixth. After a double to the very next batter, Andrew Webster (Barton) ended Nowak’s night, Devin Hemmerich (Norfolk State) was able to come in and stop the bleeding after a RBI single from Greg Jones (Carson Newman).
Nowak’s stint was not to be overlooked as he pitched five solid innings, giving up three runs and striking out three for the victory.
The Pilots bullpen had a strong task of shutting down the Tobs offense, who scored 14 runs in the first round against Wilmington. Hemmerich pitched around a runner in the seventh to keep the Tobs off the board. Brett Smith (Old Dominion) tossed the final two innings, delivering a quick 1-2-3 inning in the 8th and working around a hit batsman in the ninth using a game-ending double play to clinch the victory.
The Pilots will head to Savannah for the Petitt Cup Finals with Game 1 taking place on Sunday night in Savannah. Games 2 & 3 will take place at War Memorial Stadium on Monday and Tuesday night, respectively. 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!
The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s premier summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 20th season in 2016, the CPL features 16 teams playing in Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL has had nearly 1,300 alumni drafted and 89 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.