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Second baseman Kevin Jordan, the No. 9 hitter in the Wilson Tobs lineup, flirted with winning the game with his third home run of the 2019 Coastal Plain League summer collegiate baseball season.
And he got the job done by being hit by a pitch in leading off the bottom of the eighth inning.
Jordan, the son of former Major Leaguer Kevin Jordan, scored both runs in the Tobs’ 2-1 nail-biter against the Wilmington Sharks before a sparse “Thirsty Thursday” and July 4 (no fireworks) turnout in Fleming Stadium.
The second win against the Sharks of the East Division vaulted Wilson to no worse than a tie for the North Division lead at 2-1. The Tobs, first-half division winners, climbed to 16-12 overall, while the Sharks dropped to 1-1 in the East Division and to 9-19 against all foes.
The game was scoreless until Jordan led off the bottom of the fifth with his homer against starting Sharks pitcher Austin Parsley, who turned in a stout seven-inning performance.
With the score knotted at 1-1, flukish developments marked the last two innings.
The first was Jordan being hit by the only pitch thrown by left-handed Wilmington reliever Andrew Kaminsky, who was saddled with the loss.
“Baseball is a crazy game,” Hill reacted. “The game is so intriguing; that’s why we play it.”
Jordan scurried to third base on an errant pickoff throw to first base by pitcher Henry Cartrett. Jordan easily scored on left fielder Hunter Gore’s sacrifice fly.
“I try to get on every time,” Jordan commented, “and my third at-bat, (Kaminsky) just hit me. There was nothing I could do about it. I’m out there to ball for my bros; that’s pretty much what I’m thinking every day.”
Noted head coach Bryan Hill of Jordan: “As a hitter, he’s got streaky power. He’s starting to put together better at-bats and is working his way into a solid season.”
Jordan assured the emphasis is a reduction in strikeouts.
“I struck out way too much the first half,” he admitted. “I feel like I can get a hit every time I put the ball in play.”
The unexpected continued in the top of the ninth, with Wilson clinging to a 2-1 lead.
Jimmy Sharkey, the third Tobs pitcher, began the inning with a strikeout. With the count two balls and two strikes, he departed after aggravating a back injury when throwing a curve ball.
Taylor Soper was summoned. Soper completed the strikeout of Sharks first baseman Chad Fairey and retired center fielder C.J. Conrad on a bouncer to third base to end the game, notch his first save and preserve Nate Fiala’s third win without a loss.
Fiala, bothered by a hit batsman in each of his two innings, yielded the Sharks’ only run in the seventh and worked a scoreless eighth. Left-handed starter Jacob Gilmore blanked the Sharks on two hits through six innings.
Wilson pitchers were aided by the defense nixing a double-steal attempt in the sixth (left fielder Tucker Greer was erased in a rundown between third base and home) and catcher Christian Avant nailing Sharks right fielder Cory Everett on a steal attempt in the third.
Hill lauded Gilmore’s best — and longest — outing and Avant’s work behind the plate.
“I wish we could have got (Gilmore) some more runs early,” Hill expressed. “But he’s done well; he’s done very well. Any time the starter goes five innings, we consider it a quality start. Anything else is a bonus.
“Avant did a good job behind the plate. All our catchers have thrown the ball well all season.”
The Tobs viewed the win a momentum boost going into road tests against division foes Friday and Saturday. The all-star break is scheduled Sunday through Tuesday and Wilson does not play in Fleming again until next Thursday.
“We are trying to win every day,” Jordan declared. “Every one is nice whether they are big wins or little wins — as long as we get the ‘W.’”
Added Hill: “We need to get these next two to get us going. We look forward to getting after it.”
Score by innings:
Wilmington 000 000 100 — 1
Wilson 000 010 01x — 2
WP-Nate Fiala (3-0) 2 IP 1 H 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO. LP-Andrew Kaminsky (0-2) 0 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 SO. S- Taylor Soper (1) 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO.
LEADING HITTERS — Wilmington: Tucker Greer 1-3, Cory Everett 1-3, R; Chad Fairey 1-4. Wilson: Kevin Jordan 1-2, HR, 2 R, RBI; Nick Rose 1-3, Chris Meyers 1-3, DeShawn Lookout 1-3, Michael Calamari 1-3.