With the dogs in town, the Tobs picked up a victory Monday night at Fleming Stadium. Unfortunately they were not the SwampDogs, but the Tobs defeated another division rival, the Wilmington Sharks, by a 3-2 final score to wrap up the first half of the 2008 Coastal Plain League season. "Bark in the Park" Night was a tremendous success in Wilson, and the dogs and their owners went home happy. After the win, Wilson's overall record stands at 12-15, while the Sharks are back at .500 with a 14-14 mark. The Tobs lead the season series with the Sharks 4-2, with six contests remaining between the two clubs.
Right-handers Ryne Mantooth and Ryan VanderTuig squared off for Wilson and Wilmington, exchanging zeros on the scoreboard through the first four innings. Wilson broke the tie in the bottom half of the fifth after loading the bases with no one out. Chris McGhee, making his Tobs debut, would then ground into one of the strangest double plays you'll ever see. He hit a chopper toward third, and Ben Kline threw home, forcing Derek Simmons out at the plate. For some reason, Jared Richmond did not run from second at all, and he was forced out at third base for a 5-2-5 double play. Packy Elkins would pick everyone up by cracking a two out, two run double to left field, giving Wilson the lead.
As the rain began to fall, Ryne Mantooth gave the two run lead right back as Wilmington answered with some clutch hitting of their own. Bobby Leeper, who would finish the night with three hits, laced a one out double to right center field. Mantooth then hit Kolby Epley with a fastball, the first free pass Mantooth would issue. After Cory Lyda grounded out slowly to second base, Mikel Alvarez, Wilmington?s leading hitter, lined a two out, two run single to left center, tying the game.
Shortly thereafter, the tarp was put on the field at Historic Fleming Stadium, as the Sharks and Tobs waited out a 36 minute rain delay. When play was resumed, both starting pitchers continued to work, despite sitting for over half an hour. The Tobs would pick up the final run of the game in the bottom of the seventh, this time with the help of Wilmington's defense. Matt Sanders singled with one out, and reliever Kyle Deese replaced VanderTuig after his stellar 6 1/3 innings of work.
Chris McGhee then hit what appeared to be an inning ending double play ball to second base. Alvarez tried to tag Sanders on the run before fielding the ball, as the ball trickled off his glove before the Sharks recorded an out. Packy Elkins was retired on a pop out to short stop, but Nick Hogan came through with two away, lining a single into center field that scored Sanders from third with the eventual game winning run.
Mantooth would pitch a scoreless eighth, but not without forcing the fans at Fleming Stadium to hold their breath. Cory Lyda boomed a one out triple over the head of Hogan to dead center field. With the infield in, Alvarez could not get the job done and grounded out to second, holding Lyda at third. Jason Hagerty, making his Sharks debut, then hit a slow roller down the third base line. Matt Sanders fielded it with his bare hand and threw across the diamond all in one motion, retiring Hagerty by a step and saving the lead.
After Mantooth exited finishing eight complete frames, Brandon Brinson made his twelfth appearance of the season, pitching a perfect ninth inning to pick up his second save in as many opportunities. Mantooth picked up his third victory of the season, improving his record to 3-2. Ryan VanderTuig took a rough loss, dropping his record to 2-1 overall. The Tobs will get a fresh start Tuesday as the second half begins, but overall record may still play a factor if the Tobs are eligible for a Wild Card berth into the Petitt Cup Tournament.
Wilson will begin their second half drive toward a CPL South Division title Tuesday night as they return to J.P. Riddle Stadium to take on the Fayetteville SwampDogs. Fayetteville posted a 5-1 record against the Tobs during the first half, and the Tobs were 0-3 against the SwampDogs away from home. Radio coverage will begin at 6:45 PM on WUBN 106.9 FM with Eric Kopp. Wilson will return home Wednesday night to take on the first half division champions, the Florence RedWolves. Game time is scheduled for 7:05 PM, with great seats still available for Time Warner Cable Night.
The Wilson Tobs are a member of the Coastal Plain League, the nation's hottest summer collegiate baseball league. Celebrating its twelfth season, the Coastal Plain League features 14 teams playing in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia. The CPL gives college players the chance to refine their skills with the use of wooden bats. Players are housed with local host families for the summer and past experiences have been very positive for both players and hosts. For more information on the Coastal Plain League, please visit the league website at www.coastalplain.com.