Pilots’ rally falls short

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In a game to decide the 2014 East Division First Half Championship, the Peninsula Pilots’ late rally fell short in a 6-4 loss to the Edenton Steamers on Thursday night at War Memorial Stadium.

The Steamers jumped out to a 6-0 lead early but the Pilots clawed back to make things interesting. They were in a position to tie the game in the ninth inning but Josh Roeder (Nebraska) was able to get a strikeout to strand runners at second and third to preserve the 6-4 win for his sixth save of the season.

The Pilots were trailing 6-3 coming into the ninth before Will Shepherd (Liberty) led off the inning with a double to deep center field. With the crowd behind the Pilots, Brandon Stephens (Georgia) smacked a pitch back up the middle to bring in Shepherd to cut the Steamers’ lead to 6-4. After a couple strikeouts put Peninsula’s backs against the wall but Garrett Brooks (East Carolina) extended the game with a double to right to make things interesting. Roeder’s strikeout ended the inning and the Pilots’ chance to win the First Half Championship against their rivals.

Both starting pitchers came into the game with good statistics against their opponents. Gunnar Kines (Mount Olive) came into the game holding the Pilots to a .119 average against him on the season. Brandon Vick (Longwood) came into the game haven’t allowed an earned run all year. The Steamers got to Vick early with a RBI single by Ryan Raslowsky (Cal State-Northridge) with some help of some weird hops. Vick was able to get out of the inning minimizing the damage but Jake Placzek (Nebraska) burned Vick with a three-run shot over the left-field wall for a 4-0 lead. An error extended the inning allowing for the home run to charge unearned runs to Vick, who took his first loss of the season (2-1).

Kines pitched six strong innings of one run ball, striking out seven while walking two. Alex Posey (Illinois-Chicago) gave up two runs in 2/3 innings of work. Dustin Emmons (Missouri Baptist) retired all four batters he faced with four strikeouts setting up Roeder’s sixth save of the season.

Ryan Lenaburg (Southeast Missouri State) relieved Vick with four solid innings, giving up two runs on three hits. Blair Betts (UNC-Greensboro), Wes McGuire (Lenoir-Rhyne), and Thomas Busbice (Old Dominion) each pitched a scoreless inning of relief. Betts and Busbice struck out two while McGuire added a strikeout.

With the Steamers ahead 4-0, they added two more runs in the fourth on a two-run double by Raslowsky.

The Pilots chipped away at the lead with runs in the sixth and seventh innings. With two outs in the sixth, PJ Higgins (Old Dominion) smacked a single up the middle to kick start a rally. Alex Close (Liberty) singled to the gap and got caught in a rundown. Higgins was able to score before Close was tagged out for the Pilots’ first run of the game.

Peninsula added two runs in the seventh when Brooks brought home Stephens on an RBI single. With runners on the corners, Brooks stole second prompting a throw by the Steamers’ catcher that sailed to the outfield allowing Nelo to score and cut the Steamers’ lead to 6-3.

Stephens led the Pilots with a 3-for-4 night, scoring a run and driving in a run. Higgins and Brooks both added two hits apiece in the loss. Edenton was led by Placzek and Raslowsky, who drove in three runs apiece for their seventh consecutive divisional half championship.

The Pilots will take a day off on Friday before hosting Petersburg on Saturday night for Cancer Awareness Night! Beyond Boobs will be sponsoring the game along with Wynne-Ford. We will be honoring all cancer fighters and survivors! 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 69 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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