WILSON, NC — The Pilots tied the 2017 team for the franchise record for wins to start a season after their sixth-consecutive victory to start the 2021 campaign.
Peninsula (6-0) defeated Wilson (2-4) 6-2 Tuesday at Fleming Stadium behind some timely hitting in the five-run eighth inning — something that was lacking in the two earlier frames in which the Pilots left the bases loaded.
Redshirt freshman Trey Morgan — who had just completed his third inning of relief — led off the top of the eighth with a seven-pitch walk.
James Madison outfielder Trevon Dabney followed that up with a walk of his own, bringing redshirt freshman shortstop Zac Morris to the plate in an obvious sacrifice situation.
Morris did his job, dropping down the bunt — something the Pilots have struggled with in the early part of this season — and reached base safely on an error by Tobs sophomore first baseman Andrew Fleming to load the bases.
After sophomore catcher Copper Hansen punched out on six pitches, head coach Hank Morgan turned to his bench to overcome the team’s struggles hitting with the bases loaded on the night.
Junior utility Luke Zimmerman — who is playing in his third season with the Pilots — grabbed a bat and stepped to the plate for his first plate appearance of the 2021 season. He walked in the first Peninsula run to tie the game 1-1, and the offensive floodgates opened from then on.
The next batter — Southern Indiana junior second baseman Ethan Hunter — entered his at-bat hitting at a dismal .095 clip on the year. His third hit of the season could not have come at a better time, though, as he smacked a two-RBI double to give the Pilots a 3-1 lead.
However, they weren’t done yet.
William & Mary redshirt junior Hunter Hart — who was celebrating his 22nd birthday Tuesday — roped another two-RBI base hit to extend the Pilots’ lead to 5-1.
The first baseman wrapped up his second productive game in a row at a 2-for-4 clip, knocking in two and drawing a walk. In his last two contests, the Beaverdam, Virginia, native is 5-for-9 with three RBIs.
In the ninth, Peninsula picked up another insurance run to extend the lead to its eventual 6-2 final on another RBI single from Hunter.
The Terre Haute, Indiana, native finished the night 2-for-5 with three RBIs and a run scored.
Up until the eighth, Peninsula’s situational hitting was marginal at best.
It left the bases loaded in the third and sixth innings, stranding a total of 12 baserunners on the night.
The Tobs also had troubles pushing runners across, thanks to Trey Morgan’s innate ability to work out of danger in his three-inning relief appearance that earned him the win Tuesday.
In the Hampton native’s first outing of 2021, he stranded five of Wilson’s nine runners, preserving the Pilots’ 1-0 deficit. He also struck out three and walked two.
The Pilots will look to claim the outright record for most wins to begin a season Wednesday when they travel to Holly Springs, North Carolina to take on the Salamanders who they defeated 2-0 May 31 at War Memorial Stadium. First pitch is at 7:05 p.m.
Live stats are available on pointstreak.com by searching “Peninsula Pilots.” The game will also be streamed live through FloSports.