HAMPTON, Va. – A late home run by Kyle McPherson lifted the Peninsula Pilots to a 4-3 victory over the Savannah Bananas in Game 2 of the Petitt Cup Championships on Monday night at War Memorial Stadium.
After Savannah tied the game up in the eighth inning, Kyle McPherson (James Madison) forced a winner’s take all on Tuesday night at War Memorial Stadium with a solo shot over the left field wall. The Bananas would not go away quietly as they loaded the bases in the ninth inning but Michael Parmentier (Norfolk State) got a slow roller to second base to preserve the game.
While the late-game dramatics allowed the Pilots to force Game 3, the Pilots would have not been in the situation without a gem from right-hander Chris Gau (Jacksonville). The right-hander had a no-hitter until the seventh inning and struck out five on the night.
The Pilots took an early lead with three runs in the third inning. Joe Poduslenko was the first base runner of the game for either team when he lined a single into right field to kick off the inning. Franco Guardascione (Jacksonville) followed with a hard chopper off the shortstop’s glove to put two on. Working to advance the runners in a sacrifice bunt situation, Nathan Eaton (VMI) worked the Bananas’ pitcher, Garret Lovorn (Clemson) into walking to load the bases for the top of the lineup. Early in his at-bat, Nick Walker (Old Dominion) had a shot down the left field line that would have cleared the bases but was called foul. Walker settled for a fielder’s choice to score Poduslenko for the first run of the game. An errant pickoff throw on Walker scooted away far enough to allow Guardascione to score for the second run of the game. After a double by Will Shepherd (Liberty) put two runners in scoring position, Kurt Sinnen (Old Dominion) lifted a sacrifice fly to center field to score Walker for an early 3-0 advantage.
With Gau dealing on the mound, it looked like that the Pilots would force Game 3 quietly but a three-run eighth inning by the Bananas slightly altered the momentum. After a strikeout to start the inning, a walk and a single by Adam Gauthier (Dartmouth) ended Gau’s night as head coach Hank Morgan went with right-hander Brett Smith (Old Dominion) to get out of the jam. An error allowed the bases to be loaded and the Bananas took advantage to score three runs in the extended inning. Clay Dungan (Indiana State) put the Bananas on the board with a RBI single through the left side. A fielder’s choice allowed another run to score before Jameson Hannah (Dallas Baptist) knotted the game at three apiece with a single up the middle. Smith put a stop to the bleeding with a strike out.
In the bottom half of the inning, McPherson took the first pitch he saw from left-hander, Jesse Bogacz (Kenyon College) over the left-field wall to retake the lead for the Pilots.
Savannah would not go away quietly against Parmentier in the ninth. After a strikeout, back-to-back hits by Nick Chrouby (Texas A&M) and Christian Hollie (UT-Arlington) put two on with one out. After a wild pitch moved two runners into scoring position, Parmentier got Gauthier looking for the second out. After a walk loaded the bases, Parmentier got Dungan to ground out softly to Poduslenko at second base to preserve the win.
The Pilots and the Bananas will battle in a winner’s take all on Tuesday night at War Memorial Stadium. Gates open at 5:30 and first pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. 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.