The long-time Coastal Plain League rivalry was renewed Tuesday with the Pilots getting the best of the Steamers.
Peninsula (18-5, 1-0 second half) defeated Edenton 7-4 at Historic Hicks Field in an exhibition that did not count towards Coastal Plain League standings thanks in large part to outfielder Elijah Lambros’ four-hit, two-RBI night.
“Well, I changed my approach, so I was just looking out,” Lambros said. “They throw a lot of lefties, so yeah, just looking out and they were throwing it there. So, working up the middle.”
The game was dead-locked at 3-3 with first baseman Jay Cassady leading off for the Pilots. The Christopher Newport product rolled a groundball up the middle for his first-career hit since swapping from Captains to Peninsula blue.
Lambros dumped his third single of the night into right field before catcher Zach Lass’ second walk of the night to load the bases.
Second baseman Ethan Hunter drew an RBI walk as third baseman Carson DeMartini skied a high fly ball that deflected off the short 300-foot porch to left field for a two-RBI single to extend the Pilots’ lead to 6-3.
The final run of the four-run fourth came off the bat of Trey Morgan who grounded out unassisted to first base.
With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Edenton right fielder Hunter Cole laced a line drive that hit between the two connected walls — one upper and lower — bouncing back towards the infield and away from Morgan for a triple.
Two batters later, designated hitter Ian Jenkins grounded a single down the third-base line and into left field for an RBI double to score the final run of the game to cut the game to its final mark of 7-4.
Hank Morgan turned it over to right-handers Jack Dragum, Tripp Breen and Erik Stock who combined for three perfect innings in the seventh, eighth and ninth, respectively.
Dragum — in his first outing of the year — struck out the side in the seventh.
Breen entered Tuesday with a 12.15 ERA, but induced two groundouts, including a dynamite diving stop from DeMartini over at the hot corner. He dove to his glove side, picked the ball on a short hop, popped up and fired to first to retire second baseman Chase Bruno.
“I saw a guy that went out and attacked with his fastball, and because he did that, he was able to get a swing on an offspeed pitch,” Hank Morgan said. “That was big for him and hopefully that will allow that to build some momentum for him.”
Stock — who pitched 5 1/3 innings for Peninsula in 2020 — made his 2021 debut, striking out the first two Steamers hitters before forcing a 5-3 groundout to secure the victory.
In the bottom of the first, the first pitch from righty Lance Hinton was smacked over the short porch in left-center field which measures 365 feet to the deepest part of the park.
Peninsula battled back a half-inning later with right fielder Luke Zimmerman and shortstop Zac Morris reaching on consecutive walks.
Lambros followed that up with his first hit of the night — a sharp single underneath the diving glove of Edenton second baseman Chase Bruno — for the Pilots’ first hit of the night to tie it 1-1.
The second run of the inning for the Pilots scored on Ethan Hunter’s groundout for his 10th RBI of the season, pushing the game to a 2-1 Pilots advantage.
In the bottom of the second after a one-out single from Edenton first baseman Casey Haire and an error at third by DeMartini, Cole hit an RBI single to right field to tie the game 2-2.
Hinton would finish out the inning, working two frames in an opener role instead of his usual relief duties, while surrendering two runs — one earned — on five hits and one walk.
Edenton left-hander Chris Buehler lifted his leg in his motion in the top of the third and, instead of going to the plate, he wheeled around to pick off designated hitter Trey Morgan.
Morgan was hung up in a rundown, but dove safely back into second. A few pitches later, Lambros dumped his second single of the night into shallow center to give the Pilots a 3-2 lead.
The South Carolina commit finished his solid day at the plate 4-for-5 with two RBIs and a run scored.
“I think during practice, he’s put in a lot of extra time early and it’s really been trying to stay through the middle of the field,” Hank Morgan said. “In the last week or so in his BP he’s been kind of showing it, and I think that last at-bat down against Wilson, he was able to stay through an offspeed pitch and flick that into the outfield.
“He’s a good player, I think it was just a matter of getting comfortable.”
In the sixth, designated hitter Luke Zimmerman grounded out to second and tripped on the bag with a knee injury. When his spot in the order came up in the top of the ninth, Hank Morgan went to none other off the bench than right-handed pitcher Chris Ludman.
Ludman watched a ball and a strike go by before check-swinging on a slider, grounding out to the pitcher.
“I don’t know why it didn’t go over the fence,” Lambros said jokingly. “He was definitely safe. Dude’s a beast, especially in the box. It happens, everybody gets out. Hard 90, super hard 90. Dude’s a freakin’ beast.”
The Pilots have an off day Wednesday before they travel to Fleming Stadium to take on the Tobs Thursday at 7 p.m., coming off a 5-1 victory against them Monday.