HAMPTON, Va. – The Peninsula Pilots rallied from a five-run deficit to defeat the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, 7-5, in front of a crowd of 3,312 on Sunday evening at War Memorial Stadium in Hampton, Va.
The U.S. outhit the Pilots, 9-6, in the contest but issued 10 free passes on the mound and committed three errors, leading to two costly unearned runs. The loss is Team USA’s first of the summer as its record drops to 6-1.
“Peninsula played well today,” Team USA manager Dave Van Horn said. “They have some good players, laid down some nice bunts and just outplayed us the last five innings and beat us. Hopefully we took away that you can’t just sit around and wait for things to happen. You have to bring it every inning and not let at-bats get away from us, and I think that is what happened to us tonight.
“I don’t want to make any excuses for anybody but I did see a team that was pretty tired. We had a four-hour bus ride, played a scrimmage game and then sat around for two hours after that. We got off to a great start, jumped ahead 5-0, but it seemed like we just kind of went through the motions after that. I think there were a lot of kids that we stressed out today to be honest and once we get the roster down to 24, I think we’ll see guys start to relax once they know they have made the team and what their role is.”
Christin Stewart (Tennessee) paced the CNT offense, going 3-for-6 with a pair of doubles, two RBIs and a run scored. Blake Trahan (Louisiana Lafayette) also had three hits and an RBI in the game, while DJ Stewart (Florida State) drove in the team’s only other run.
On the mound, U.S. starter Bailey Ober (College of Charleston) and A.J. Minter (Texas A&M) fired two scoreless frames each with Ober striking out four of the seven batters he faced.
Tyler Jay (Illinois) put a zero up in his only inning of work while Dillon Tate (UCSB) fanned the one batter he faced on three pitches. Trey Killian (Arkansas) suffered the loss after allowing three runs – two earned – on three hits and two walks.
The U.S. pitching staff allowed an uncharacteristic 10 free passes with nine walks and a hit batter. In the team’s previous six games, the staff had combined to allow just 12 (10 walks, two hit batters) over 54.2 innings.
Team USA opened the scoring with a three-run first inning before tacking on two more in the second to race out to a quick 5-0 lead. After four scoreless frames to start the contest, the Pilots got on the scoreboard in the fifth when they plated a pair of runs.
Peninsula would the take the lead just one inning later when it used four hits to bring four runs in. A successful suicide squeeze in the bottom of the seventh then pushed the lead up to the eventual final score of 7-5.
Following the regulation portion of the contest, the two teams proceeded to play an additional 10th inning under international tiebreaker rules as determined before the game. The U.S. used a sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position but back-to-back pop-outs left them stranded.
In their portion of the extra frame, the Pilots took advantage of a leadoff walk to load the bases before another perfectly executed suicide squeeze brought in the would-be winning run.
The contest against the Pilots concludes Team USA’s Red, White & Blue tour through the Coastal Plain League. The squad will cut its roster down to 24 players before opening a five-game international friendly series against Chinese Taipei on Monday, July 1, at the National Training Complex in Cary, N.C. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m.