Redshirt freshman designated hitter Alden Mathes led off the game with a mammoth 409-foot home run that cleared the scoreboard in right-center field of Shepherd Stadium — symbolic of his and the Pilots’ night at the plate.

Peninsula (12-3) jumped on Tri-City (4-12) for a touchdown in the first inning, setting the tone for the PIlots’ 18-6 demolition of the Chili Peppers led by Mathes’ five hits — which tied a record for most in a single game.

“The same, typical Alden Mathes,” head coach Hank Morgan said. “One thing that he has going for him — in addition to a lot of ability — he’s got a high motor, man. That might sound very simplistic to the outsider, but in the summertime when you’re playing every day in professional baseball and you’re playing a game every day, bringing energy to the ballpark matters and I think that’s his No. 1 attribute.”

The Pilots batted around in the first, allowing Mathes to collect his first single of the game. An inning later, Mathes smacked a grounding double past Tri-City’s third baseman for a double.

On the first pitch of his fourth- and sixth-inning at-bats, respectively, the Richmond Spider singled to center and right field, tying the record for the most hits in a single game for a Pilots player in franchise history.

In the eighth with the cycle and hits record still within reach, Mathes was hit with a 2-2 breaking ball on the foot, but he still had one more chance to reach both milestones.

Mathes came to bat for the final time in the top of the ninth with two runners aboard and no outs. He grounded a slow roller to shortstop — which appeared to be no problem for the team leader in stolen bases to beat out — but on a controversial bang-bang play at first, Mathes was called out, falling just shy of standing alone on the top of the mountain.

The Broomall, Pennsylvania, native finished his historic night 5-for-6 with three RBIs, two runs scored and getting hit by a pitch.

“I’m seeing the ball well, swinging at strikes,” Mathes said. “When I’m putting balls in play, I’m having a lot of success.”

Following Mathes’ round-tripper in the first inning, Hunter Hart — the Chili Peppers’ promotional strikeout victim of the night — did not punch out, but laced a line-drive RBI single to plate the second run for the Pilots, but they weren’t done there.

James Madison infielder Mason Dunaway hit a sharp liner to left field which only scored one run because first baseman Justin Starke froze thinking the ball would be caught.

Next batter — sophomore catcher Copper Hansen — extended the Pilots’ lead to 5-0 on a double from the left side of the plate.

The switch-hitting Hansen recorded a single to left-center field in the second from the right side of the plate, contributing to his 4-for-6, three-RBI day.

“I think one or two of them were with two strikes,” Morgan said. “Good things happen when you put it in play, and tonight it happened for him.”

The final blow of the inning came off the bat of junior second baseman Ethan Hunter who roped an RBI single back up the middle, extending Peninsula’s lead to 7-0.

In the second inning, it was much of the same.

Dunaway came back and started the scoring again, dumping a two-RBI bloop single into right field to extend the Pilots’ lead to 9-2.

The Chesapeake, Virginia, native finished 3-for-5 with four RBIs and a walk.

Junior utility Erik Stock jacked a line-drive two-run homer that hit the netting beyond the left field wall that protects the neighborhood behind it to propel the Pilots to a 14-2 advantage.

The final two Peninsula runs came in the top of the fifth on back-to-back doubles from Trey Morgan and Dunaway, extending the lead to 16-6.

In the top of the eighth, Peninsula picked up another run on an RBI groundout from Starke.

The Chili Peppers collected their first three runs on three solo home runs — two off the bat of Wilson Galvan.

Tri-City had a three-run fifth inning courtesy of a two-RBI double from Benjamin McClain IV and a Galvan single, plating McClain.

The Chili Peppers did not score after the bottom of the fourth inning thanks to a big contribution from Pilots freshman right-handed reliever Carmine Poppiti. The James Madison product pitched four scoreless innings, striking out four while walking three.

“Any zero in this ballpark in any inning is a big thing,” Morgan said. “That’s giant, he was great tonight.”

Peninsula’s 18 runs were the second most scored in a game, happening for the first time since June 18, 2018 against Edenton. The Pilots scored 19 runs in a game twice — July 12, 2011 against Asheboro and August 2, 2016 against Petersburg.

The Pilots’ 21 hits tied the 2015 team’s June 10 performance against Petersburg with the lone 22-hit performance coming August 2, 2016 against the Generals.

The Pilots are back on the bus Sunday for the 2 1/2-hour drive to Wilson, North Carolina to face the Tobs at 7 p.m. The game will mark the second trip to Fleming Stadium for Peninsula who won 6-2 June 8.