Meltdown in 9th inning sinks Tobs

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From superb to shock — in the span of one inning.

After a near-flawless performance in the form of a 5-0 lead through eight innings, the Wilson Tobs were unable to stop Edenton’s ninth-inning assault until it was too late to avoid a 6-5 Coastal Plain League summer collegiate baseball loss in Fleming Stadium on Tuesday night.

The final-inning meltdown resulted in sweet redemption for Steamers right fielder Bryson Worrell, a product of Hunt High and a rising sophomore at East Carolina University, who has struggled against the Tobs this summer.

With a single to the opposite (left) field, Worrell drove in the tying run and then scored the game-winner on a wild pitch. The at-bat resulted in his only success in five trips to the plate and left him 5-for-31 against Wilson this season.

“They have kind of had my number this season,” Worrell admitted. “But it feels good to come back and win like that when they had the game pretty well wrapped up.”

Instead, Wilson, the North Division leader, fell to 12-5 in the second half and to 22-19 overall. The Tobs’ lead against second-place Peninsula dipped to 2 1/2 games. The Steamers, now 6-5 against Wilson this season, improved to 7-10 in the second half and to 19-24 overall.

Edenton is matched against Peninsula on Wednesday night, while the Tobs are off. Wilson then welcomes Peninsula on Thursday evening at 7 in Fleming Stadium.

Through eight innings, Wilson starter Tyler Grauer, a left-hander, and relievers Waylen Ergle, Cody Smith and Danny Cody stymied the Steamers on no runs and five hits with 13 strikeouts. Through five innings, Grauer overpowered Edenton hitters with 10 strikeouts.

“He was very good,” Tobs head coach Bryan Hill acknowledged of Grauer, who was lifted after five innings. “But with the shortened (six innings) game Monday night and being off Wednesday, we needed to get some guys some pen work.”

But the move did not work out well in the ninth.

Left-hander Jared Gallagher failed to retire any of the five batters he faced. Edenton first baseman Ben Whetstone, third baseman Rich Giupo and catcher T.J. Wegmon each doubled. Shortstop Anthony Warneke and second baseman Tyler Jones each singled.

Right-hander Ryan Troutman followed Gallagher, and the Steamers’ assault continued with Worrell’s single that knotted the score at 5-5, designated hitter Zane Harris’ single and a two-out wild pitch that enabled Worrell to trot home with the game-winner.

“That was kind of rare,” Worrell described Edenton’s six-run ninth. “You don’t see that every day.”

“We were dead, but started that rally, got everybody behind us and kept battling at the plate.”

Of his at-bat, Worrell said: “I was just trying to stay within the ball, go with the pitch and get the ball in the air and get a sacrifice fly.”

Edenton reliever R.D. Lutze, who notched his second save, retired the Tobs in order in the bottom of the ninth.

“One of those things,” Wilson’s Hill reacted. “That’s baseball. We looked good all night; we just had a tough go in the ninth. We’re not going to let one inning ruin everything. It was still a well-played game.”

Edenton starter Ben Anderson turned in a solid seven innings, but allowed an unearned run in the second and first baseman Ben Faso’s two-run home run in the seventh. Faso also drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly.

The Tobs nicked left-handed Steamers reliever Stromborg for two runs in the eighth. Second baseman J.T. Stone doubled and center fielder Brenton Doyle and left fielder Caleb Dean each singled.

Doyle wound up 4 for 4; Grauer was sensational; and Faso swung a potent bat. Through eight innings, the Tobs cruised.

Then came the ninth.