Other than the sixth inning, the Pilots’ bats were silenced.
Peninsula (27-10, 10-4 second half) was beaten by Morehead City (26-11, 12-3 second half) 3-2 Thursday at War Memorial Stadium, losing two games in a row for just the first time this season.
“For the past 48 hours, we’ve been admiring long fly balls, being selfish with our swings,” manager Hank Morgan said. “That’s on us. We had awful approaches. We were selfish and juvenile for those two times through and, you know, a team like that is not.”
Morehead City’s starter — right-hander Colt Webb — entered play with a 7.43 ERA and an opponent on-base plus slugging percentage of a whopping 1.048 clip, but he shut down Peninsula’s order through the first five innings.
He was perfect after the first 15 Pilots hitters with only two of them having six-pitch at-bats — two from center fielder Trey Morgan and one from shortstop Logan Steenstra.
Steenstra broke up the perfecto bid to lead off the bottom of the sixth, singling on a mishandled ball up the middle by Marlins shortstop Jack Casbarro to jump-start a brief Peninsula rally.
Third baseman Mason Dunaway dropped down a sacrifice bunt and Morehead City first baseman Hunter Shepherd attempted to catch Steenstra taking too much of a turn at second base. His throw deflected off a diving Steenstra’s arm and into left field to move him up to third.
Following a walk from right fielder Elijah Lambros to put runners on the corners with one out, Trey Morgan dropped down his signature third-base line bunt for an RBI single to give the Pilots their first run of the game.
Stock — whose three outs on the day were all deep fly outs to the warning track — finally came through with a single to right field to trim Peninsula’s deficit to 3-2.
It would knock on the door in the eighth, as Lambros singled, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.
Morehead City drew the infield in, but back-to-back groundouts retired the side and the Pilots’ chances of claiming victory.
“I would have liked to have, in retrospect, maybe put a little pressure on with the contact play and a left-handed pitcher in there and Trey slapped the ball,” Hank Morgan said. “We had a runner at third and one out. We had a [6.5-second 60-yard dash] runner at third base, and the pitcher’s back was turned to us, we probably could have gotten a healthy primary lead and be a little more aggressive there.”
Lefty Alden Mathes posted a good start for the Pilots, allowing just one run on four hits and a walk in five innings.
Two singles and a walk with one out in the third led to the first Marlins run.
In the sixth, right-handed pitcher Michael Falco relieved Mathes and issued a leadoff walk to Morehead City right fielder Jack Harris. Back-to-back hits plated the second run for the Marlins with the final run coming on a sacrifice fly.
“Unless we find some unselfishness in our hearts, and take the approach that we had to our offense from the sixth through the ninth tonight and apply it to every inning that we have left together, which could be as many as through August the 7th and it could be as few as through August the 2nd.”
The Pilots are on the road Friday to Shepherd Stadium for the final time this season to take on Tri-City who they are 15-3 against this season, looking to extend their five-game against them.