The Pilots found their hitting on Thursday night, resulting in a 4-3 win in game one and a 4-2 win in game two on a rainy evening at War Memorial Stadium.
Peninsula recorded six hits in each game against High Point-Thomasville, led by Kyle Battle (4-6, 2 R, 4 1B) and Erik Stock (3-5, 3 1B). Neither one hit a home run, though – those fell to Jake Boone and Secrest in game one and Matt Burch and Pena in game two.
After just five hits in a 4-3 win in ten innings over the Greenbrier Knights on Wednesday night, the Pilots’ offense sparked in game one when Boone homered to left field in the first inning.
The HiToms answered in the third inning with Britt Fuller scoring after an error from Stock at third base.
The game remained tied until the top of the sixth when an RBI double from Kier Meredith scored Hogan Windish for the HiToms.
The Pilots answered in the bottom of the inning, though. After Battle singled to lead off the inning, Jack Dragum walked to put two runners on the bases. Then Secrest stepped up, sending a pitch deep to right-center field to score three and put Peninsula in the driver’s seat with a 4-2 lead.
Pilots’ manager Hank Morgan put the game in the hands of Marcus Olivarez, the right-handed pitcher from Columbus, Texas who garnered the attention from the many scouts at the ballpark after throwing around 96 mph.
The Lamar Cardinal delivered.
Olivarez loaded the bases with four hits and gave up a run after Michael Turconi batted in Jeremy Simpson. With the game on the line, though, Olivarez didn’t flinch, forcing Windish to ground into a double play at second base to end the game.
Olivarez earned the save, while Alex Hinton earned the win after allowing just one hit in the sixth. Thursday’s strong pitching began with starting pitcher Austin Peterson, however, as he struck out five batters in five innings of work to keep the game in reach.
After Hank Morgan made just two changes to the batting order in the second game of the doubleheader, the Pilots took a few innings to get going under the lights in Hampton.
Turconi opened up the scoring for the HiToms, batting in Meredith to get the visitors on the board in the top of the third.
Peninsula responded in the bottom of the fourth, though, thanks to a solo home run from Burch. Battle then got on base after a passed ball on a drop third strike, and Dragum laid down a sacrifice bunt two batters later to give the Pilots a 2-1 lead.
The HiToms evened the score up in the top of the fifth thanks to an RBI groundout from Zack Gelof that brought home Windish, but the night wasn’t over for Peninsula.
Like game one, Hank Morgan put the game in the hands of the Pilots’ pitching staff. Once again, they did their part.
Jacob Pilarski, in his second year with Peninsula, jogged out to the mound in the sixth inning. The right-handed pitcher had tallied 13 walks and 11 strikeouts in 6.2 innings before Thursday’s contest.
The Pittsburgh, Pa. native didn’t miss, striking out four of the six batters he faced in his two innings of work and not allowing a base hit.
The game was Peninsula’s to lose after that, as Trey Morgan led off the bottom of the seventh. He was walked by HiToms pitcher Carson Wisenhunt and then advanced to second thanks to a sacrifice bunt from Ben McCabe.
With Morgan on second, Pena stepped up to the plate. The center fielder from UCF had yet to record a hit against the HiToms, but it didn’t matter.
Wisenhunt left a pitch over the plate and Pena didn’t hesitate, cranking the pitch out to center field to give the Pilots the 4-2 victory and the series sweep over High Point-Thomasville.
- The Pilots have a day off Friday before playing seven games in seven days, starting on Saturday with a three-game series against Wilson Tobs.
- It was the first of two doubleheaders between Peninsula and High Point-Thomasville – the two teams will faceoff at Finch Field in Thomasville, N.C. on August 2.
- Peninsula earned their fourth and fifth win of the season, moving them into third in the Coastal Plain League’s Mid Atlantic pod.