Pilots on brink of elimination after Game 1 loss

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FAYETTEVILLE, NC- In a back and forth affair, the Fayetteville SwampDogs took the first game of series with a 7-6 win over the Peninsula Pilots in the first round of the 2014 CPL Petitt Cup playoffs on Wednesday night at J.P. Riddle Stadium.

Tied at six apiece in the eighth inning, Fayetteville drew a bases loaded walk to score the go-ahead run in the eighth inning. The Pilots threatened in the ninth with a runner on third base with one out but a strikeout and a groundout ended the threat and put the #1 overall seed on the brink of elimination.

The two teams will finish up the series in Hampton on Thursday with Game 2 and if necessary, Game 3, on Friday night at War Memorial Stadium.

After trading zeroes for the first two innings, the Pilots took advantage on some miscues in the third inning to score three runs. Andres Nelo (Lee) and Garrett Brooks (East Carolina) were hit by pitches to start the inning. Kyle Kempf (Southern Indiana) advanced them 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt and the Pilots were in a prime position to score first.

Nelo scored the first run of the game by scampering home on a ball that got away from the catcher. After a walk to Taylor Ostrich (Old Dominion), Brooks scored on a wild pitch and the Pilots had a 2-0 lead with getting a hit. Alex Close (Liberty) quickly changed that with the Pilots’ first hit, a triple to center field to bring home Ostrich.

The SwampDogs answered quickly with two runs of their own off of Shawn Clowers (Liberty) in the bottom half of the inning. Kameron Stewart (Frostburg State) put the team on the board with a RBI double that scored David LaFleur (LSU Enice). Stewart would score on a wild pitch later in the inning to cut the Pilot’s lead to 3-2.

The Pilots extended their lead to three with two runs in their very next at-bats. Nick Lustrino (Temple) started off the inning with an infield single and advanced to second on Nelo’s single. After a wild pitch moved the runners up a base, an infield single by Brooks scored Lustrino and gave the Pilots a 4-2 lead. Nelo scored later in the inning on another passed ball for a 5-2 lead.

Fayetteville once again answered with two runs in the bottom half. LaFleur knocked a RBI double to score Sam Hall (Dixie State) and LaFleur came around to score on Jason Blum’s (Southeast Missouri State) infield single and the SwampDogs found themselves down by one.

After a scoreless fifth inning, the Pilots scored again in the sixth with a RBI single by Ostrich that scored Kempf and the Pilots had a two run advantage. For the third inning in the game, the SwampDogs answered with two runs to tie the game at six apiece. Jacob Whiting (Montevallo) led off the inning with a single and moved to third on a throwing error that ended Clowers’ night. Wes McGuire (Lenoir-Rhyne) was called on to get out of the jam. LaFleur brought in a run on a groundout to cut the deficit to one. Michael Bozarth (St. Louis) tied the game at six with a RBI single.

Clowers gave up six runs (four earned) on nine hits in five innings of work. Clowers also added seven strikeouts on the night. McGuire and Grayson Bailey (Lee) both pitched scoreless innings with Bailey striking out the side in the seventh. Jordan Brooks (Georgia College & State) gave up a run in an inning of work but struck out three. SwampDogs’ right-hander, Jordy Farthing (Mount Olive) matched Clowers with five innings of work, also giving up six runs while striking out five and walking five. Bennett Schlitz (Midland) was awarded the win with 3 1/3 innings of shutout ball, giving up four hits and striking out two. Hunter Barnnett (Mount Olive) got the final two outs for the save.

Lustrino led the Pilots with three hits while Nelo scored three times, two on passed balls. Bozarth, Chase Edwards (Mount Olive), and LaFleur led the SwampDogs with two hits apiece.

The two teams will finish up the series at War Memorial Stadium with Game 2 taking place on Thursday night at 7:05pm. If a third game is needed, it will take place in Hampton on Friday night. For more information regarding the season, please visit www.peninsulapilots.com. For up to the minute details on Pilots Baseball be sure to “Like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @PeninsulaPilots. Use the #PilotsNation to spread the word about the Pilots!

The Coastal Plain League is the nation’s hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its 18th season in 2014, the CPL features 14 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. The CPL has had over 1,200 alumni drafted and 72 of those – including 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander – make their Major League debut; while another notable alum - Russell Wilson - won Super Bowl XLVIII. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at
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