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Mark Chesnutt’s 2009 hit country song expressed that steamy weather experienced by spectators turning out for Tuesday night’s Coastal Plain League North Division showdown between the Wilson Tobs and Peninsula Pilots in Fleming Stadium was “too hot for fishing and too hot for golf.”
And temperatures in the high 90s at game time arguably took a toll on pitchers.
But hitters enjoyed a hot time in the clash for outright possession of the division lead.
The Tobs and Pilots rapped a combined 26 hits and plated 14 runs before Peninsula emerged the division leader at 10-5 with an 8-6 victory. Wilson departed 9-6 after the teams entered the summer collegiate league encounter deadlocked at 9-5.
Wilson erased 2-0 and 5-2 deficits but was unable to extend its winning streak to seven games going into Wednesday night’s road test at Wilmington. The Tobs are back in Fleming Stadium at 7 p.m. Thursday against division foe Edenton.
The Tobs paraded seven pitchers to the mound, and Peninsula called upon five. Pilots left-hander Ethan Elliott got the win, while Tobs right-hander Sam Lanier absorbed the loss.
The Pilots reached starting Tobs pitcher Sean Deely for two runs in the second inning on a walk, Dominic Toso’s double, Kyle Butler’s sacrifice fly and Cole Girouard’s single.
Wilson answered with two runs in its half of the second against Pilots starter Collin Liberatore. With two outs, the Tobs loaded the bases on singles by right fielder Carson Freeman and first baseman Caleb Dean and a walk to second baseman Jacob Nester. Left fielder Antwaun Tucker delivered a two-run single.
Peninsula chased Deely with two runs in the third. An error and Jack Strunc’s single preceded Cole Prestegard’s two-run double. The Pilots’ lead grew to 5-2 in the fourth on Strunc’s sacrifice fly.
After Peninsula first baseman Kyle Butler’s defensive gem denied the Tobs in the third, Wilson answered with three runs in the fourth.
Dean launched the spree with a lead-off home run. Then, singles by Tucker and center fielder Brenton Doyle set up designated hitter Kevin McGowan’s tying two-run single.
No more scoring occurred until the seventh although a base-running mix-up cost the Tobs in the fifth. In the top of the sixth, Wilson relief pitcher Gary Watkins was forced to leave the game after being felled by a line drive to the vicinity of an ankle by Tyler Adams.
Peninsula chased Tobs reliever Sam Lanier in the seventh. Lanier departed after issuing singles to Strunc and Prestegard. Danny Cody relieved and the Pilots reclaimed the lead at 7-5 on run-producing singles by Matthew Schwarz and Bryce Krizan.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Tobs nicked left-handed reliever Ethan Elliott for the first run he has allowed in seven appearances. However, Wilson squandered a chance to tie the contest and possibly seize the lead.
With one out, second baseman Jacob Nester walked and Tucker continued his perfect evening with his fourth hit, a single. Doyle hammered an RBI double to whittle the deficit to 7-6. But with runners at second and third, Elliott struck out the next two Tobs.
The Pilots then added insurance with an unearned run in the eighth. Wilson put two runners on base with one out in the bottom of the ninth but Ryan Erickson, who took over for Elliott, fanned Doyle and Brooks to end it.