Petitt Cup Playoffs: Late collapse ends season for HiToms
A wild pitch by Brody Koerner with the bases loaded plated the game's winning run in the 10th inning to give the Columbia Blowfish a 4-3 win over the HiToms, knocking High Point-Thomasville from the Petitt Cup Playoffs.
In a 3-3 game that reached the 10th inning, Chase Shelton doubled to deep center to leadoff against HiToms reliever Nick Miller. Miller struck out Allen Staton and intentionally walked Connor Lewis. A miraculous stop behind the second base bag on a Jake Welch groundball up the middle by HiToms shortstop Champ Rowland limited Welch to an infield single and held Shelton at third, advancing Lewis to second to load the bases. The HiToms turned to Koerner, who with his first pitch, threw a wild pitch that bounced all the way to the backstop, allowing Shelton to score and end the ballgame.
Miller (1-1) gave up three hits in two innings of relief with four strikeouts and a walk to suffer the loss.
With the HiToms up 3-1, Eros Modena singled and Shelton doubled to put runners on second and third to leadoff the eighth against reliever Austin Blunt. After getting Staton to popout, Blunt threw a wild pitch on 3-0, walking Lewis and allowing Modena to score from third as the Blowfish crawled to within one at 3-2.
With runners on the corners and still only one out, the HiToms then called on Miller out of the bullpen. Welch chopped a slow grounder to first that Kyle Martin went to second with for the force. But Welch beat the return throw to first to allow Shelton to score from third, tying the game at three.
The HiToms jumped out in front from the get go. Mike White led off the ballgame with a walk, advancing to second two batters later on a single by Sam Foy. Martin then followed with a single of his own to drive in White and give the Tommies the early 1-0 advantage.
High Point-Thomasville put runners on second and third with two outs in the fourth. Columbia starter Jon Olczak grooved a 1-0 fastball then Alex Raburn laced into left-centerfield for a two-run single as the HiToms went up 3-0.
After getting Staton to flyout to right to leadoff the seventh, HiToms starter Chase Cunningham yielded a double to Connor Lewis and walked Jake Welch. After Dylan Kelly flew out to left, DC Arendas walked to load the bases. On a 3-2 pitch, Brandon Burris rolled a ball slowly to third and beat the throw down the line to first to put the Blowfish on the board at 3-1.
The HiToms opted to replace Cunningham with the bases still juiced, bringing in Blunt. The Ole Miss southpaw got Michael Wilson to popout to second, ending the Blowfish threat.
Cunningham allowed a run on five hits with four strikeouts and three walks in 6.2 innings.
Hunter Privette (1-0) was the winning pitcher for Columbia, tossing 1.2 scoreless frames of relief with two strikeouts.
The Blowfish will play the Gastonia Grizzlies in the Pettit Cup Playoff Semifinals starting Sunday.