Peninsula (31-11, 14-6 second half) split the doubleheader with Wilson (22-18, 12-8 second half), winning game 1 6-4 and dropping game 2 5-4. The Pilots’ magic number to clinch home field advantage in the first round of the Petitt Cup playoffs is one.
Pilots infielder Jack Dragum entered play 3-for-31 in his 10 games. He matched that hit total in game 1 of Thursday’s doubleheader.
In the fourth inning with the Pilots clinging to a slim 2-0 lead, two of the first three hitters were hit by a pitch from Tobs righty Peter Schaefer with a double from Peninsula second baseman Zac Morris mixed in there to load the bases.
Dragum stepped to the dish already riding a 2-for-2 day before smacking a first-pitch two-RBi double off the wall in left field to put the Pilots ahead 4-0, missing a grand slam by just a few feet.
The Charlotte product finished the game 3-for-4 with the two RBIs.
Peninsula grabbed an early lead in the first thanks to some command issues from Schaefer 一 who missed on 20 of his first 38 pitches in the opening frame.
Designated hitter Carson DeMartini led off the game with his 25th walk in 78 plate appearances, moving to second on Dragum’s first knock of the day.
Center fielder Trey Morgan walked to load the bases before Logan Steenstra 一 who started at first base before moving to shortstop in the third 一 was hit by a pitch to open the scoring.
Next batter 一 catcher Brock Gagliardi 一 walked to bring home Dragum from third to extend the Pilots’ lead to 2-0.
Later in the top of the fifth inning, Gagliardi launched his second homer of the season to give Peninsula a 5-0 advantage.
Pilots second baseman Zac Morris added to that when he laced his second hit of the game past Tobs third baseman Dylan Scaranda and into left field, making it 6-0.
The Tobs didn’t go quietly as they got a 385-foot blast from right fielder Riley Jepson before they put together a three-run seventh inning.
Lefty Alden Mathes came on after playing six innings of right field to shut it down, but the first three batters reached on a single and two walks, respectively.
Wilson’s Brainy Rojas laced a two-RBI single to cut the deficit to 6-4, bringing the winning run in Dusty Baker to the plate.
However, Mathes wheeled around and fired a strike to Steenstra at second to catch pinch runner Tommy Gibson napping for the second out before striking out Baker three pitches later to end it.
It was Thirsty Thursday at Fleming Stadium, but this game featured fireworks like most of this season’s series has against Wilson.
Third baseman Dylan Scaranda took Pilots righty Casey Bargo yard over the right-field wall. Bargo hit the next batter Griffin Everitt and was immediately ejected, clearing the benches, but nothing more 一 as the Tobs stood just outside of their dugout as both sides had peer mediators.
That put the weight on right-hander Daniel Cole to clean up the mess.
He walked shortstop Drew DeVine on four pitches to put runners on first and second. Trying to take a page from Mathes in game 1, he tried to wheel around and pick off Tobs pinch runner James Arokawa at second, but his throw sailed into center field and both runners moved up.
Jepson stepped in and chopped a slow roller to first baseman Luke Zimmerman who stepped on the bag, but his throw home for the attempted 3-2 double play was late and Wilson led 2-0 after one.
An inning later, Morgan 一 who made an incredible leaping grab against the center field wall in game 1 一 came through with the stick this time around, launching a majestic 347-foot home run over the double-decker wall in right to tie the ballgame.
In the bottom of the third, Wilson tagged Peninsula right-handed pitcher Joe Buckendorff for a pair of runs with only one earned.
He walked the leadoff and allowed a single before inducing what looked to be a tailor-made 4-3 double play. However, Morris 一 who was ranging up the middle 一 could not come up with it as it rolled into center field and the Tobs took a 3-2 lead.
Wilson plated their second run of the inning on Jepson’s sacrifice fly out to center field to allow Everitt to trot home.
The Tobs added an insurance in the bottom of the fifth as Everitt 一 who was sitting heater 一 roped a leadoff single into left.
He stole second before being knocked in on first baseman Braedon Blackford’s RBI double to right-center field to make it a 5-2 game.
Wilson left-hander Carlos Rey threw three no-hit innings to silence the Pilots’ bats from the third through the fifth.
After Peninsula chased him after 48 pitches, they got a spark off of righty Justin Guidos when Dragum continued his offensive surge by swatting his third dinger of the year to cut it to a one-run game in the sixth 一 a deficit it would not overcome in the seventh to drop game 2 and split the series.
The Pilots are back at home for the final time in the regular season for 2021 against who they started it with 一 Wilson. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. as gates will open at 5:30 p.m.