SAVANNAH, Ga. – In a battle of the two best offenses in the Coastal Plain League, the Savannah Bananas took the first game of the 2016 CPL Petitt Cup Finals with an 8-4 win at Grayson Stadium on Sunday night.
The Bananas, in their first season as a CPL franchise, won the first matchup between the two teams and will just need one more victory to win their first CPL Petitt Cup Championship. The Pilots, who leads the CPL in home victories with 22, will look to defend their home turf as they host Games 2 & 3 on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, at War Memorial Stadium.
The league’s best offense kicked off the game with a bang as Will Shepherd (Liberty) and Kurt Sinnen (Old Dominion) led off the game with back-to-back doubles with the latter plating Shepherd for the first run of the game. Joe Poduslenko (Seton Hall), playing in his first game after missing time due to injury, followed with a base hit to put runners on the corners. Darian Carpenter (VCU) lifted a sacrifice fly to left field to score Sinnen and the Pilots had a 2-0 lead after their first at-bats.
Savannah wasted no time in answering as a leadoff home run by Clay Dungan (Indiana State) cut the deficit to one.
The two teams kept each other scoreless for the next few innings until Savannah broke the game up with seven runs combined in the fifth and sixth innings, respectively. In the fifth, a one-out single by Adam Gauthier (Dartmouth) and a walk to Jeff Nellis (Cal State Long Beach) set up a RBI single by Dungan. Clint Hardy (Augusta University) followed with a two-run double to give the Bananas their first and only lead of the night.
Savannah added to their lead with four runs in the sixth as they took advantage of a few defensive miscues by the Pilots. A single and walk put runners on the corners with one out for the Bananas. A single through the right side by Gauthier extended the lead to three. Nellis plated a runner with a single to left center. Savannah scored another run on an error before a RBI single by Hardy capped the scoring for the Bananas.
The Bananas were given the task of quieting the Pilots offense. After giving up five hits in the first two innings, the Bananas did not surrender a hit until Poduslenko reached on a single in the eighth.
Trailing by six, the Pilots pieced together a successful ninth inning to make things interesting. After two quick outs, Devin Mahoney (St. Louis) hit a pinch-hit single before Nathan Eaton (VMI) and Shepherd followed with singles to load the bases. Kurt Sinnen (Old Dominion) hit a two-run single through the right side to cut the deficit to four but would not get any closer.
Colby Weaver (Dallas Baptist) got the win for the Bananas by tossing 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball. He scattered five hits and struck out six. Sam Sinnen (Old Dominion) took the loss for the Pilots, giving up four runs in 4 1/3 innings.
The Pilots will return home to War Memorial Stadium as they host the Savannah Bananas for Game 2 on Monday 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 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.