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Highlighting Colby Warren’s schedule for the week of July 2-8 was a trip to Charlotte on Saturday to play in the Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League All-Star game in representing the North Wake Fungo.
Instead on Saturday night, Warren found himself in Wilson and Fleming Stadium, living a dream as the newest member of the Wilson Tobs.
Warren was not only inserted into the starting lineup as the designated hitter, but on the third Coastal Plain League summer collegiate baseball pitch he saw, he swatted a home run, a solo blast over the left-field fence to lead off the third inning and ignite the Tobs to a scintillating 9-5 triumph against the Morehead City Marlins,
A rising sophomore at Barton College, Warren singled in the midst of the seven-run uprising in the bottom of the seventh inning that vaulted the North Division-leading Tobs to their fifth consecutive win and their first conquest of the Marlins, the first-half East Division winners, in three tries.
5-0 SECOND HALF
Wilson climbed to 5-0 in the second half and fought above .500 at 15-14 overall. The Marlins, possessors of the the league’s best overall record, dropped to 2-3 in the second half and to 22-8 in all games.
Warren finished 2 for 4 in his Tobs debut and graciously obliged autograph-seekers afterwards.
He was contacted earlier in the week by Barton head coach Jim Chester and informed the Tobs wanted him to play for them. He got the call from the Tobs, came to Wilson, completed the paperwork and was ready to play Thursday.
“It was kind of a hard decision,” Warren, the 2018 NCAA Division II Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year, admitted of not playing in the all-star game. “I knew there would be pro scouts there and I really liked my (North Wake) teammates.
“But this was an opportunity to play in the Coastal Plain League and it has always been my dream to play for the Tobs. It’s like a dream come true.”
A dream that exceeded Warren’s expectations.
“I was sitting fastball,” Warren eagerly described his first at-bat. “(Head) coach (Bryan Hill) said to stay ahead of the pitch. I was thinking that I hit that ball pretty good and that it might go out. I kept watching — and it did. I was shaking so bad that I almost missed first base. It felt so good off the bat.”
The blast against Marlins starting pitcher Sawyer Gibson-Long produced a 1-1 tie. But the Marlins plated a run in each of the fifth and sixth innings against Wilson starter Chris Kernen and owned a 3-1 cushion when Wilson came to bat in the bottom of the seventh.
Tobs catcher Jacob Charron drew a walk and Warren, batting ninth, singled. Shortstop Matt McCourt and right fielder Jack Duffy each singled. McCourt scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch. An intentional walk backfired. An error led to three unearned runs. Second baseman J.T. Stone drove in a run on a force play and a second wild pitch plated another run. Charron delivered an RBI single.
Left fielder Caleb Dean added an RBI single in the eighth.
“I was expecting curve ball,” Warren noted of his second hit. “And I got it just good enough to get it in a gap somewhere. I was just trying to put the ball in play and get the team up. I just wanted to help the team, and I came out here and did my thing.”
‘COULDN’T STOP THEM’
Summarized Marlins head coach Jesse Lancaster: “We couldn’t stop them. They did a good job. I was really impressed with the way they hit the ball the last two innings. They hit some good arms. Those arms have been winning games for us and I was comfortable putting the ball in their hands. Maybe this will be an eye-opener for us a little bit outside the division.”
Hill agreed with Lancaster’s assessment of relievers Zach Barnes, Evan Lumbert and Brandon Marklund.
“They were the best relief arms we have seen,” Hill declared. “The guys were coming up with some timely hits and were doing a good job of two-strike hitting. They laid off some tough pitches. The guys are playing good.”
Of Warren’s debut, Hill responded: “That’s great that, in his first at-bat, he could impact the game like that. He is an Eastern North Carolina (Roanoke Rapids) boy and it was great that he could do it in front of the home fans.”
Right-hander Danny Cody, who relieved Kernen, notched the win, his third without a loss. The Tobs summoned Waylen Ergle and Jared Gallagher when Morehead City plated two runs in the eighth on designated hitter Dominick Cammaratta’s single. But Wilson closer Luis Acosta quickly retired the Marlins in order in the ninth.
Warren, who slugged five homers with the Fungo, expects to help the Tobs at third base, first base and designated hitter.
“It just felt so good to win,” he said.
The game was Wilson’s last before the All-Star break. The Tobs return to action Thursday at 7 p.m. in Fleming Stadium against the Martinsville Mustangs.
“We need to keep on having fun and playing hard,” Hill emphasized. “Don’t worry about the score. Have fun, play the game and, when it’s over with, look back and see how we did.”