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Left-hander Vincent Puma isn’t certain why he drew the starting pitching assignment for Saturday night’s regular-season finale in Fleming Stadium, but he’s oh, so thankful.
Puma expressed his appreciation by, in his first start, pitching the Wilson Tobs to franchise history.
With their 5-0 victory against the Martinsville Mustangs, the Tobs. first-half winners in the Coastal Plain League’s North Division, also clinched second-half supremacy --- establishing the precedent of winning both halves.
With a 29-21 record, Wilson advanced into the division championship game Sunday night in Fleming Stadium against the Peninsula Pilots. With a 15-10 division mark, the Tobs wound up 1 1/2 games ahead of Peninsula and 2 1/2 half ahead of Edenton. Both Peninsula and Edenton lost Saturday night. The Mustangs, with just 13 players (two pitchers), finished 8-18 and 18-34, respectively.
Puma, a recent Chowan University graduate, stopped Martinsville on three hits through five innings. He struck out seven in boosting his record to 3-0. Mason Medlin, Jakob Ryan, Carson McClure and Josh Sieglitz followed Puma with a scoreless inning each and, combined, yielded one hit.
“(Head coach Bryan Hill) came up to me Monday and told me I was going to start the final regular-season game,” Puma said. “I had a week to prepare and had a good bullpen. I felt good tonight. Everything worked out really well, and we got the championship.”
Puma has pitched in middle and long relief for the Tobs.
“Moving into long relief really helped,” Puma contended. “It prepared me for my start. I would liked to have gone longer, but I was kind of shaky in the fourth inning. I was happy I came back well in the fifth. I was fine with lasting five innings, moving on and getting ready for the playoffs.”
The Tobs tagged Mustangs starter and loser Brayden Weyer (0-4) for the five runs in the fourth inning. Michael Calamari doubled in the first run and later scored on a throwing error. Kevin Jordan doubled and Hunter Gore slammed his seventh home run to tie him for the team lead.
Puma was effective with a running fastball and curveball.
“Amazing!” he expressed of Wilson winning both division halves. “That’s the first time in Wilson Tobs history. It was pretty fun to be a part of it. We clicked from the very first day and everything fell into place from there.
“This is probably the last time I get to ball with the bros.”
Score by innings:
Martinsville 000 000 000 — 0
Wilson 000 500 00x — 5
WP-Vincent Puma (3-0) 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 SO. LP-Brayden Weyer (0-4) 4 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 0 SO.
LEADING HITTERS— Martinsville: Jack Capobianco 2-4, Jackson Sisk 1-4, 2B. Wilson: Michael Calamari 2-4, 2B, RBI; Hunter Gore 1-2, HR, 2 RBI; Kevin Jordan 1-3, 2B.