HAMPTON, Va. – The Peninsula Pilots’ quest for their third Petitt Cup Championship fell short as they could not complete a comeback against the Savannah Bananas 9-7 on Tuesday night at War Memorial Stadium.
In their first season as a CPL franchise, the Bananas fended off the Pilots, who out-hit the visitors, to win their first Petitt Cup Championship.
Savannah strung together a two-out rally in the first inning to get on the scoreboard first. Jameson Hannah (Dallas Baptisti) and Rylan Bannon (Xavier) hit back-to-back singles and advanced into scoring position on an errant pickoff throw. A miscue on an Angel Camacho (Jacksonville) ball allowed the Bananas to plate the first run of the game.
The Bananas exploded for five runs in the second inning to take a commanding 6-0 lead. After a leadoff single by Christian Hollie (Texas-Arlington), a sacrifice bunt moved himself into scoring position. After a walk to Jeff Nellis (Cal State Long Beach), Clay Dungan (Indiana State) singled up the middle to score Hollie and a throwing error allowed two Bananas to move into scoring position. After a strikeout, Hannah hit a three-run home run over the right field wall. Bannon followed with a solo shot to left field to give the Bananas a 6-0 lead.
Peninsula would not go away quietly as they clawed back to cut the deficit to two with five consecutive hits. Game Two hero Kyle McPherson (James Madison) kicked off the hit barrage with a single to left field. Darian Carpenter (VCU) followed by scoring Pherson with a double down the left-field line. A single by Charlie Cody (Virginia) and an error allowed Carpenter to score and put Cody at third. Joe Poduslenko (Seton Hall) followed with a streaker down the right field line to score Cody. Franco Guardascione (Jacksonville) hit a single off the left field wall to score Poduslenko and cut the deficit to two.
After a scoreless third inning, the Bananas extended their lead to four on a two-run single by Camacho.
The Pilots got one back in the bottom half of the inning on a sacrifice fly by Will Shepherd (Liberty). Guardascione and Nathan Eaton (VMI) led off the inning with back-to-back singles before advancing into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Walker (Old Dominion) set up the sacrifice fly by Shepherd.
Peninsula threatened in the sixth loading the bases with no outs but two pop outs and a ground out squelched the threat.
The Pilots got within one when two runs scored on an error in the eighth inning. The two-time Petitt Cup Champs had a chance to tie the game but left the tying run in scoring position before going down in order in the ninth.
Beau Sulser (Dartmouth) picked up the win despite being shellacked for ten hits and five runs. Ryan Flores (Richland College) retired all four batters he faced to convert the save.
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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.