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MOREHEAD CITY — Three wins in four Coastal Plain League regular-season games against the Morehead City Marlins didn’t help the Wilson Tobs on Tuesday night.
The Marlins added to the CPL’s best record with a 4-1 defeat of the Tobs in the Petitt Cup playoffs’ NorthEast Regional Championship Game or semifinals. The win at Big Rock Stadium sends Morehead City, the defending CPL champion, back to the Petitt Cup Championship Series against the Macon Bacon, who clipped the Forest City Owls 1-0 in the SouthWest Regional Championship game Tuesday.
The Tobs, winners of both halves in the North Division, finished with a 30-22 mark in the same place their season ended a year ago.
Playing a day after a tense 5-4 win over the Peninsula Pilots in the North Division Championship Game at Fleming Stadium, the Tobs struggled to make contact against a quartet of Marlins hurlers. Wilson posted 17 strikeouts, tied for the second most this season, with Morehead City starter Connor Schultz chalking up nine Ks.
Meanwhile, Wilson starter Chandler Coates struggled nearly from the outset. The right-hander gave up three runs, all earned, on six hits and three walks in just 2 2/3 innings. Morehead City picked up its first run in the bottom of the second inning when Jacob Reimold’s one-out double sent Hunter Shepherd, who led off with a single, to third base. Shepherd then scored on Bryan Kowalski’s groundout to Tobs shortstop DeShawn Lookout.
The Marlins increased their lead to 3-0 in the third. Jace Mercer led off with a double and scored on Dusty Baker’s single to right field. Baker, who took second on an error, moved over third on a flyout and raced home on a groundout.
The Marlins, who stranded 11 base runners, saw the inning end on a play at the plate for the second straight time.
The Tobs finally got on the scoreboard in the fifth when Christian Avant stroked a lead-off single to right before walks to Chris Meyers and Hunter Gore loaded the bases. Kevin Jordan’s sacrifice fly brought in Avant and left runners at the corners. However, Meyers was gunned down at home in a double-steal attempt and De’Andre Pitts grounded out to end the inning.
Morehead City added an unearned run off Sebastian Martinez, the third of six Tobs pitchers on the night, in the bottom of the sixth.
The Tobs threatened in the eighth when Pitts and Jared Carr reached on a pair of two-out singles to bring up Tobs catcher Shamoy Christopher, the team co-leader with seven home runs. But Marlins reliever Ryder Yakel fanned Christopher.
Avant and Carr each went 2 for 4 to lead the Tobs, who matched the Marlins with seven hits. Mercer’s 3-for-4 showing, including two doubles, paced Morehead City.
Score by innings:
Wilson 000 010 000 — 1
Morehead City 012 001 00x — 4
WP-Connor Schultz 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 SO. LP-Chandler Coates 2 2/3 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Wilson: Jared Carr 2-4; Christian Avant 2-4, R. Morehead City: Jace Mercer 3-4, 2 2Bs, R; Hunter Shepherd 1-4, R, RBI; Dusty Baker 1-4, R, RBI; Jacob Reimold 1-4, 2B.