(HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C) After getting out to a 3-1 lead on Tuesday after three innings, it looked like the Manders were in for another low-scoring pitchers' duel, a game so often repeated this summer for Holly Springs. Fortunately for the Manders pitching staff, the late innings were seemingly stress-free as the offense plated six seventh inning runs to put the Salamanders up 9-1 and send them on their way to the team's ninth win of the second half.
The Salamanders got on the board on a long solo home run from Chase Allen (Limestone) to left field that nearly cleard the entire scoreboard, eventually landing in the parking lot. Allen's fifth home run made it 1-0 after 2, and in the third an RBI double to left by Cam Locklear (Liberty) scored Patrick Wheeler (Pitt CC) from second to make it 2-0, and later in the inning Clemente Inclan (UNC) was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to make it a 3-0 Holly Springs lead.
With Earl Semper (UNC) on first with nobody out in the bottom of the seventh, Angel Zarate (UNC) dropped down a bunt right in front of home plate, picked up by Wilmington catcher Zachary Bridges. Bridges' throw was wild and sailed down the right field line, allowing Semper to come all the way around and Zarate to get all the way to third. After a walk to Chase Allen two batters later, Clemente Inclan singled through the right side to score Zarate and make it a 5-1 game.
The game's biggest blow game from the next batter, catcher Ryan Orr (San Diego State). Orr hit a three-run homer over the wall in left center field for his second of the season, busting the game open at 8-1. The Manders' ninth run came via a Cam Locklear sacrifice fly that scored Daulton Martin (Tusculum) from third.
The Manders got yet another great all-around pitching performance on Tuesday night. Starter Mitch Holcomb (Penn) looked sharp from the beginning with all of this pitches, making Sharks hitters look foolish on a number of swings and misses. The right-hander went five shutout innings on only two hits, striking out six and walking only one.
Jake Isbell (Pitt CC) allowed one run in the sixth, but did a nice job to limit the damage by stranding Douglas Angeli on first base. Ryan Tapp (Slippery Rock) threw a perfect seventh inning, striking out one. In the eighth, left-hander Chris Joyner (UNCW) walked the first two men he faced, but after a mound visit from pitching coach Zach Booker looked absolutely dominant, striking out the next three hitters in succession to put up another zero. Finally, Kyle Davis (Pitt CC) came on for the ninth, tossing a shutout frame with one strikeout.
The win was the Salamanders' fifth in their last six games, moving them to 9-8 in the second half. Morehad City also won on Tuesday night, meaning the Marlins will enter Wednesday leading the division my mere percentage points. However, it's clear that the Manders are now playing their best baseball of the season at the perfect time as they push for a CPL East second-half title and thus a spot in the 2018 CPL Pettit Cup Playoffs.
The Manders are off Wednesday before hosting Morehead City at Ting Stadium on Thursday night. Thursday's first pitch is set for 7:00pm. #ManderMania
Tuesday's Box Score: https://www.coastalplain.com/sports/bsb/2017-18/boxscores/20180724_59fx.xml