It took until the ninth inning for the Pilots to get their only run of the game thanks to shortstop Logan Steenstra’s solo home run, but it was too little, too late.
The rivalry was renewed between Peninsula (21-8, 4-3 second half) and the Steamers (11-9), but Edenton got the best of the Pilots 7-1 behind a five-run third inning given up by right-hander Blake Purnell.
“We’ve been pretty poor with pitch calling, so we’ve got to make an adjustment there as a coaching staff,” manager Hank Morgan said. “I can’t put too much of that on Blake.”
Purnell cruised through his first two innings of his start, striking out a pair and only allowing a single up the middle.
The wheels fell off for Purnell in the third, however.
The Florida product allowed the first three batters to reach on a pair of singles and a walk from designated hitter Josh Pernetti, first baseman Jacob Mustain and second baseman Chase Bruno, respectively, bringing Steamers right fielder Hunter Cole to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs.
After a foul back to the screen, Cole hammered a high fly ball 356 feet over the wall to right-center field to bust the game wide open 4-0.
Purnell looked like he bounced back by striking out shortstop Anthony Stehlin in a seven-pitch battle, but then lost left fielder Joe Haney on five pitches — his third and final walk of the night.
Next batter — catcher Case Kermode — roped a 99-mph line-drive double off the base off the wall in right-center field, plating Haney all the way from first to extend the 5-0.
“He had a good fastball tonight and we were unnecessarily going to the offspeed early in the game,” Morgan said. “I think he could’ve gone through their lineup one time with just fastball.
The Boynton Beach, Florida, native went three innings, allowed five earned runs on four hits while walking three.
Peninsula’s offense sputtered, mustering a respectable seven hits. However, it could not string anything together, only having multiple runners on base at the same time once when third baseman Zac Morris and center fielder Trey Morgan were on first and second in the eighth.
The Pilots — who led the East Division in walks entering play Friday — only drew two free passes on the offensive end.
“They just threw strikes and to be honest with you, we didn’t do a good job at all of making an adjustment,” Hank Morgan said. “We spent the whole night trying to hit the ball out of the ballpark.”
Edenton added to its lead in the top of the seventh when Bruno and Cole reached via a free pass and a single, respectively, off of Pilots right-handed pitcher Nic Psimas — Peninsula’s fifth pitcher of the night.
Haney sent them home on a two-RBI triple that got by first baseman Justin Starke and rattled around in the jagged right-field corner to make the game 7-0.
“We didn’t recognize early enough that we had a fight on our hands,” Hank Morgan said. “We’re going to have to win games when we don’t get walks and errors from the opposition and tonight we didn’t do a very good job.”
The final two innings Hank Morgan turned to righties Jack Dragum and Erik Stock — who log most of their innings as position players — allowing just one baserunner on a Pernetti single.
The Pilots are back on the diamond Saturday at War Memorial Stadium against Tri-City at 7 p.m. with gates opening at 5:30 p.m. The last time these two faced, the Chili Peppers prevailed at Shepherd Stadium 7-5.
The game will be broadcast live on FloSports and live stats will be available on www.pointstreak.com.