WILMINGTON, NC- The Wilmington Sharks rallied for three runs in the 8th inning to claim Game 1 of the East Division Series over the Peninsula Pilots on Wednesday night in Wilmington.
Zach Stephens (Tennessee Tech) hammered a two-run shot over the center field wall to knot the game at four and then Andrew Amaro (Maryland) brought in the game-winning run with an infield single to third and then the Sharks held off a Pilots rally to claim Game 1.
After trailing for the whole game, the Sharks struck through with three runs in the 8th of Wes McGuire (Spartanburg Methodist) to take the 5-4 lead. Hunter Smith (Gardner-Webb) held off the Pilots’ bats in the 9th stranding two runners in scoring position for the save.
The Pilots opened up the game with two runs in the 1st with a two-run double by Jordan Negrini (Old Dominion). After a strikeout to start the game, Beau Dees (Presbyterian) gave up back to back walks to Garrett Brooks (East Carolina) and Bradon Reitano (Mount Olive). Negrini made Dees pay with a two-out double to center field to plate the Pilots 2-0.
Josh Silver (Lee) hit a solo shot in the 2nd inning to give the Pilots a 3-0 lead.
The Sharks mounted a rally in the 3rd to bring the Pilots’ lead to 3-2. After two strikeouts by Jared Lyons (Liberty), a catcher’s interference allowed the Sharks to keep the inning alive. The Sharks strung together three straight hits by Alex Freedman (Lynn), Cody Dolan (Winthrop), and Zach Stephens (Tennessee Tech). Dolan and Stephens each delivered an RBI single to allow the Sharks to push across two runs to cut the Pilots’ lead to 3-2.
The Pilots struck again with a run in the 5th inning off the bat of Negrini to score Reitano, who walked. The Pilots had two runners before Negrini lofted a high fly ball that the Sharks’ outfield lost in the lights allowing the ball to drop and therefore scoring Reitano.
The Sharks threatened in the 6th after two quick outs by Lyons. Tommy Houmard (UNC-Asheville) walked and TJ Losby (Bowling Green) singled to end Lyons’ night but the next batter was retired to end the threat and kept the Pilots ahead 4-2.
The Pilots were led by 3-for-4 efforts by Alex Close (Liberty) and Matt Dickason (Longwood). Negrini also added a 2-for-4 night with three RBIs. The Sharks had multi-hit games by the top four batters of the lineup in Amaro, Freedman, Dolan, and Stephens.
Lyons earned the start for the Pilots with a strong regular season and he showed why he deserved it. Lyons delivered 5 2/3 strong innings and striking out eight Sharks. He allowed two runs in the 3rd on three straight two-out hits by the Sharks. He left the game after allowing two Sharks to reach in the 6th in favor of McGuire. McGuire got a fly out to end the threat and maintain a 4-2 lead. He pitched a scoreless 7th before giving up three runs in the 8th and was charged with the loss. Regan pitched the final three outs in the 8th, giving up the hit to Amaro to score the winning run.
The Sharks countered with Dees, who threw six innings, giving up four runs on eight hits and striking out four. Ryan Minteer (Heldelberg) followed with two scoreless innings for the win. Smith pitched a scoreless 9th inning for the save.
The series will move to War Memorial Stadium for games 2 and 3. Being the higher seed, the Pilots will host the final two games on Thursday evening and if necessary, Friday evening. The Pilots look to even the series with a win on Thursday forcing a winner takes all on Friday 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 @PeninsulaPilots. Use the #PilotsNation to spread the word about the Pilots!
The Peninsula Pilots are a proud member of the Coastal Plain League, entering their 13th season in the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 17th season in 2013, the CPL features 14 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. Furthermore, the CPL has had over 1,000 alumni drafted and 62 alums – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut thus far. For Thmore information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at www.coastalplain.com, and be sure to friend us on Facebook (at www.facebook.com/coastalplainleague) and follow us via Twitter (@CPLBaseball).