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Spectators in Fleming Stadium were being treated to dandy pitching duel between Wilson Tobs right-hander Chris Kernen and Peninsula left-hander Paul Hall Jr. before Mother Nature intervened.
Then it became a mess.
After two delays totaling some 90 minutes — one for lightning and the other for lightning and light rain — the Coastal Plain League summer collegiate baseball clash between the North Division’s top two teams was suspended after five innings with the score knotted at 1-1.
The game will be completed when the Pilots return to Fleming Stadium on Saturday. The starting time will be 6 p.m., followed by the regulation nine-inning game.
Wilson, with the best second-half record in the 16-team league, remained 9-2 and 2 1/2 games ahead of Peninsula. The Tobs, 19-16 overall, are off Wednesday before welcoming division rival Edenton at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Peninsula, the first-half winner, stayed 6-4 in the second half and 23-12 in all games.
Through three innings, Peninsula owned a 1-0 lead. In the third, second baseman Jonathan Embry walloped a triple and scored on shortstop Jack Strunc’s sacrifice fly.
Kernen returned after the first delay of 51 minutes to work two more innings. But he did not go back out in the top of the sixth because of reaching his pitch limit.
Peninsula’s Hall, a junior at Virginia Tech, departed after three dominating innings. He allowed but one hit and two walks while striking out four.
“I had a certain amount of time (to determine his return),” Kernen explained. “I was stretching out and staying loose. We hit it right on the money. I threw a few warm-up pitches in the bullpen and I felt good. I went back out. I was fine; I felt like I could throw any pitch where I wanted it. They scored one run, and it was unearned. I couldn’t do much better than that.”
Regarding the circumstances, Peninsula head coach Hank Morgan commented: “The rule is that, when there’s lightning within 10 miles, pull the teams off the field. They got it right the first time.”
The first delay occurred after three innings.
“(Hall) had it going,” Morgan acknowledged. “We think a lot of him. We had a 45-minute delay and were not going to put him back out there in that situation. The baseball gods will figure it out in good time. Their kid (Kernen) did a good job of keeping us quieted down.”
The Pilots came within a throwing error of prevailing 1-0 in five innings.
“That’s on us,” Morgan said with a shrug.
Reasoned Kernen: “That’s baseball. I did my job and they did their jobs. At the end of the day, it was 1-1.”