Generals Tame Grizzlies For Second-Straight Win
By Ryan Lazo, sports editor
Jul 29, 2014, 20:41
Jeremy Wolf continued his torrid hitting with a 4-for-5 night with three doubles and two RBIs.
PETERSBURG — In the Coastal Plain League's final full week of the season, the Generals are making a loud statement with their recent play. After toppling the Western Division's No. 1 team on the road in Florence, Petersburg aimed their crosshairs at a Gastonia squad with the second-best record overall in the West in a mid-afternoon contest at the Petersburg Sports Complex.
And the momentum gained from their seven-run dismantling of the RedWolves just 15 hours earlier didn't take long to appear against the Grizzlies. The Generals immediately took advantage of two Gastonia miscues — a three-base error on an errant throw by the shortstop on a Nick Christopher grounder and a bobble on a Connor Andrus liner to third — to take a 1-0 lead. But the one-run advantage would balloon to four as Jeremy Wolf, Jerrod Groves and Dylan Yankle each recorded RBI doubles.
The offensive onslaught wouldn't fade away either. Unlike earlier this season when the Generals coughed up big early leads as the bats faltered, Petersburg continued to lace line drives all over the field and had taken a 9-0 lead after three innings.
By the end of the night, Gastonia's pitching staff was so taxed, they used two position players and five total pitchers as Petersburg battered the beleaguered staff for 16 hits and 13 runs for one of their best offensive displays of the season. Meanwhile, the Generals staff received a boost from Colin Bigelow and two scoreless innings from both Austin McGhee and Devin Repine to close out a 13-1 victory.
The win represented the largest margin of victory for the Generals this season and showcased the type of ability Petersburg has on any given day with seven players recording at least one RBI.
"The whole offense, one through nine, swung the bats well tonight and had great approaches," manager Daniel Wood said after his team knocked off the two titans in the West. "One thing I was pleased to see was we kept the hammer down all night. We didn't have those lulls where we would let them creep back into it."
Over the course of the game, the No. 1 offense in the CPL didn't look the part because of the dominance of Bigelow on the hill. The Generals' (7-13, 14-34) right-hander has the most electric stuff on the staff with plus fastball velocity, but has struggled with control all season.
Colin Bigelow fired seven innings of one-run ball to earn the win in his final start.
Entering his final start of the campaign, Bigelow had handed out free passes to 34 batters in just 32.1 innings pitched. However, he was in full control against the Grizzlies. Bigelow pounded the zone and got ahead with his fastball which set up his off-speed pitches to keep Gastonia's (10-10, 29-20) hitters off-balance and frustrated at the plate.
In fact, Gastonia rarely threatened Bigelow, but when they did he had an answer. In the top of the 2nd inning, a double and a single by Henry Rundio had runners at second and third with just one out. But Bigelow induced a line-out and a ground-out to escape unscathed and set the tone for the rest of the game.
"He's got some dominant stuff," Wood said after Bigelow's 7-inning, one-run effort. "He's a three-pitch guy and if he's in the zone, it doesn't matter who you play against because he's going to give anyone trouble. One thing that leads to his success is his deception. Everything looks so effortless."
And everything has looked so effortless for Bigelow's entire team over the past two games.
Nick Christopher scored three runs and was 2-for-4 with a sac-fly in the win.
The Generals offense has been ranked at or near the bottom of the CPL in hitting categories all season, but has erupted for 24 runs over the past two games and has received production from all over the lineup. Greg Turlik entered Monday's game against Florence hitting just .156 before recording four hits in five at-bats, including a home run while finishing with 5 RBIs.
Red-hot Jeremy Wolf blasted Gastonia pitching Tuesday night, going 4-for-5 on the night with three doubles while adding two RBIs to his team-leading total. In fact, over the last two games, Wolf is hitting a scorching .700 (7-for-10) with 5 RBIs to help lead the Generals' offense.
But most importantly, the Generals have continued to send a message to the rest of CPL. Petersburg may have struggled earlier this season when they were mired in long-hitting slumps and lost big leads, but they have discovered a killer-instinct of late. A three-game win-streak last week culminated with a walk-off win and they opened this week by knocking off the top two teams in the West, showing they can not be taken lightly.
"You don't want a team coming in here sleeping on you," Wood said after the game. "We've done a pretty good job of that all year even with team's we played from out our division, we've given them a run for their money ... We've definitely been able to show teams you can't take us lightly and as a coach and a player, that's a comforting feeling."
While this revival of the Generals may have come too late, it also shows the type of pride each player has in themselves and camaraderie for their teammates to keep fighting late in the season. Petersburg won't be competing for the CPL title, but they can spoil other teams' dreams and after knocking off two giants, the rest of the Generals' opponents should take notice.