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When the international tiebreaker rule is implemented to decide Coastal Plain League summer collegiate baseball games, base runners are stationed at first and second bases to begin the inning.
The job of the batting team’s first actual batter is to advance the base runners with a bunt. Right?
In Sunday night’s clash of first-half division winners in Fleming Stadium, the Wilson Tobs disdained the bunt in the bottom of the 10th inning.
With Michael Calamari stationed at second base and Nick Rose on first, designated hitter Marquise Lanier, instead of bunting, slugged a three-run home run to right-center field to power the Tobs of the North Division to a 9-6 extra-inning conquest of first-half East Division front-runner and 2018 CPL champion Morehead City.
With the temperature at 95 degrees at the game’s start, Wilson squandered a 6-2 lead before dealing the Marlins a third-consecutive loss for the first time this season.
The Tobs, guests of the Holly Springs Salamanders on Monday night, improved, with their third straight win, to 5-3 the second half and 19-14 overall. Morehead City, 0-3 against the Tobs this season, departed 5-5 in the division and 24-12 against all foes.
STILL NOT A FAN
Despite the outcome, Wilson head coach Bryan Hill said he still remains not a fan of the tiebreaker rule. Morehead City head coach Jesse Lancaster echoed similar sentiments as a baseball traditionalist, but acknowed the extra-inning process shortens the game and creates excitement.
Excitement abounded as the Tobs prevailed for the third time in four extra-inning games.
“And we haven’t bunted yet,” Hill declared. “We had rather not give up an out. We’re not good at bunting and better at hitting. There was no sense in (Lanier) bunting. He’d had a tough night up to them, but we were going to take a chance on him swinging it.”
Before his at-bat in the 10th, Lanier, a recent Chowan University graduate, struck out three consecutive times and was hit by a pitch.
Explained Lanier: “I was going to go up there, be a man, put a barrel on the ball, put it down the line and get it to the next guy. I was not necessarily trying to win the game.”
Lanier, who belted his third homer, admitted he had been struggling, but reasoned: “I can’t let it dictate who I am. I still need to have fun up there and stay locked in. I thought it was going to be in the gap, but it stayed up and went out. We won the game and I am happy for us.”
Of Lanier not bunting, Lancaster said: “I was a little surprised. But we had them earlier in an extra-inning game and we had that outcome. We’ve seen Marquise do that before. I wish he had bunted; losing 7-6 looks a lot better than 9-6.”
Neither did the top half of the 10th lack excitement — or controversy.
After two pitches with the Marlins at bat, Wilson’s Hill advised the umpires that the base runners were positioned incorrectly. He pointed out that fleet Tony Mack, the last out in the top of the ninth, should be stationed at first and Zack Miller, somewhat slower than Mack, should be at second as the next-to-last batter in the ninth.
Umpires Garrett Brownawall and Rob Knox realized Hill was correct and scurried off the diamond to contact their supervisor. They returned some five minutes later and informed Hill and Lancaster that no rule covered the misinterpretation and advised Tobs management they could protest if they chose to do so.
The Tobs announced the protest — which was removed with the outcome. However, Hill hopes the situation will be reviewed.
“When they can’t get the rules right, something needs to be done,” he reasoned.
Lancaster insisted he was not attempting to be deceptive and place the speedier Mack at second.
“That’s where he (an umpire) told me to put them,” he said. “I did what he told me.”
Somewhat overlooked was right-hander Josh Sieglitz, the sixth Wilson pitcher, handling the pressure situation was well as the delay in the10th.
After two strikeouts from Sieglitz, the Marlins loaded the bases on a Tobs error. But Wilson emerged unscathed when Sieglitz induced a routine fly ball to right fielder Hunter Gore.
“It’s a tough situation,” Sieglitz assured, “but you have to get it done. You just throw strikes and hope for the best. I threw mostly sliders to the first batter and curves and fastballs to the next three.
“I knew Marquise had the power (to hit the home run) and, when I saw it, I knew he had done it. I’m just excited the Tobs got another win.”
BUILD 6-2 LEAD
The Tobs constructed a 6-2 margin as shortstop DeShawn Lookout banged an RBI single in the first. Gore clouted a three-run homer in the fourth and a wild pitch and Calamari’s sacrifice fly produced two runs in the fifth.
The Marlins nicked starting Wilson left-hander Jacob Gilmore, who lasted five innings, for a run each in the first and fourth innings.
Jakob Ryan, a junior left-hander from Barton College, pitched around a pair of two-out singles in the sixth, but wound up yielding four runs without retiring a batter in the seventh. Hunter Shepherd’s two-run single resulted in Ryan’s departure and Miller and pinch hitter Camden Williamson each tagged reliever Josh Arnold for RBI singles.
The Tobs won despite being outhit 13-7.
“We didn’t get the bunt down (in the 10th),” Lancaster reviewed. “We did not execute and they did. We played a good team tonight and they beat us. We have not played well the last three games, but I certainly think we can play with them. They did more to win tonight than we did.”
“That team (Morehead City) is very good,” Hill assured.
Score by innings:
Morehead City 100 100 400 0 — 6
Wilson Tobs 100 320 000 3 — 9
WP-Josh Sieglitz 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R 0 BB 2 SO. LP-Leo Perez 2 1/3 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Morehead City: Dusty Baker 3-5, Hunter Shepherd 2-5, 2 RBI, 2 R; Zack Miller 2-4, RBI. Wilson: Michael Calamari 2-4, RBI; Hunter Gore 1-3, HR, 3 RBI; Marquise Lanier 1-4, HR, 3 RBI; Shamoy Christopher 1-4, 2B.