Newark- It was a battle for first place in the West division of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League when the Newark Pilots took on the Elmira Pioneers at Colburn Park. Jimmy Wagner (Ithaca) took the mound for the Pilots in his first start of the year, facing off with the Pioneers’ Taylor Ahearn (Siena).
It didn’t take long for Newark to get on the board in the first. Braxton Wilks (Kansas St.) lined the first pitch of the game into left field for a single. Wilks came around to score when Tanner Giesel (Southeastern CC) doubled down the right field line. Austin Clock (SUNY Cortland) followed with an RBI groundout that brought Tommy Wagner (Cornell) home. With two outs, Sam Wiggins (Houston Baptist) reached on an infield single that allowed Giesel to score and the Pilots led 3-0 after one.
Wagner cruised through the first four frames giving up only one hit but ran into trouble in the top of the fifth. There were two outs when the Pioneers put up a crooked number of their own. Drew Fisher (USC-Upstate) started the rally when he singled softly to center bringing in Zac Bellinger (St. Rose). Jason Patnick (Manhattan) ripped a double just inside the third base bag that scored Fisher. Chris Kalousidian (Manhattan) completed the comeback with an RBI single.
The Pioneers took the lead in the top of the seventh when Patnick struck again. This time Patnick singled to center and brought Taylor Hillson (Mansfield) around, who led off the inning with a double and Elmira had their first lead of the evening at 4-3.
Elmira had a 5-3 lead going into the ninth when things got interesting. Tim Lewis (Maryland) led off the inning for the Pilots with a no doubt solo home run to right field to cut the lead in half. Luis Silverio (Palm Beach CC) pinch hit with a single to left but hustled into second when the ball was misplayed by Patnick. Wilks then reached on an infield bunt single and the throw from Nick Walker (Old Dominion) got away from Christian Santieseban (Manhattan) just far enough to allow Silverio to slid home safely tying the game.
The Pilots then had the bases loaded with nobody out and after a line out and ground out brought up Wiggins with his turn to play hero. Wiggins hit the walk off game winning RBI single up the middle to score Wagner and capped off a wild three run ninth inning comeback victory.
Newark enters the All Star break at 19-13 and Elmira at 18-15. Out of the break the Pilots will play a double header Thursday verse the Adirondack Trailblazers at Colburn Park with the first pitch scheduled for 5:05pm.