(HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C.) Off to an 0-4 start to open the CPL second half, the Salamanders were looking for something to go their way to end their losing streak and stay in the CPL East playoff hunt.
Chris Davis was that something on Friday night.
The Princeton product, who has battled stuggles at the plate throughout the season, had three of the Salamanders' four hits on Friday night, including a two-out, two-run, go-ahead double in the bottom of the eighth inning to put the Manders on top.
Holly Springs was stymied early by Peninsula pitching as the Salamanders didn't have a hit through five innings on Friday. After the Pilots put three runs on the board in the fifth off Salamanders reliever Christian Bourne (James Madison), Peninsula led Friday's game 4-0. Bourne was on to relieve starter Mitch Gremling (Wright State), who tossed four innings of one run ball.
From the sixth inning on, the Holly Springs bullpen was lights out, shutting out the Pilots the rest of the way to give the offense a chance to get back in the game. Chris Joyner (UNCW) and Robbie Hoyt (Lander) each tossed two scoreless innings, allowing just one total hit in the game's final four frames.
The Salamanders began their comeback in the bottom of the sixth inning when pinch hitter Carter Williams (NCCU) hit a slow roller to second base, and Peninsula second baseman Kyle Butler made a wild throw to first to allow Chris Davis to score from second base to make it a 4-1 game. The Salamanders would later have the bases loaded with one out in the inning, but were only able to push across the one run.
Luckily for the Manders, no more opportunities went to waste. In the seventh, Carter Wiliams was at the plate with the bases loaded and two outs. Williams hit a ground ball to the hole up the middle that was stopped on a dive by Kyle Butler, but Butler's throw to first base was late. On the play, Chris Davis never stopped running and scored from second on a ball that never left the infield, cutting the Peninsula lead to 4-3.
In the bottom of the eighth, Davis came up with his biggest hit as a Salamander, lining a two-run double into left field with two outs that scored Trey McDyre (Liberty) and Earl Semper (UNC) to put Holly Springs on top 5-4. Robbie Hoyt then slammed the door in the ninth to give the Salamanders the win.
The Salamanders were just 2-11 in one run games entering Friday, giving the win a little extra feeling of relief knowing that they had finally come up with the big hits that had evaded them in previous games.
The win moved the Salamanders to 1-4 in the second half and 9-22 on the season overall. Peninsula dropped to 2-2 in the second half and 19-10 overall on the year.
The Manders are back at home Saturday for a 6:00 first pitch against the Wilmington Sharks before taking three days off for the All-Star Break. #ManderMania
Friday's box score: https://www.coastalplain.com/sports/bsb/2017-18/boxscores/20180706_nl7a.xml #ManderMania