Family Energy Baseball Unity Vol 2.
By: Brooks Hill, Director of Media Relations & Broadcasting
Wilson, NC- The 2022 season has reached its conclusion. The Tobs reached the Petitt Cup Championship for the first time since 2001 and were the champions of the East Division. Players have departed back to school, the coaches are off to their new jobs, and the staff have prepared Historic Fleming Stadium for the offseason. Now, it is the time to take a look at how we got here, I present to you Family Energy Baseball Unity Vol. 2 the Wilson Tobs end of year review.
The front office staff reported to town on May 11th, were most of them received their orientation to the stadium, organization, and city. Prep work began to welcome in a new wave of players, graphics to post, and everything else under the sun to make sure Opening Night was a success. On May 24th the first group of players reported two days before the first game, with a couple of returners headlining the pack. Three Barton College Bulldogs, Alex Hart, Tanner Halvorson, and Dylan Scaranda were some of the familiar names to the hometown crowd.
Jacob McCaskey, from California University of Pennsylvania, was a late addition to the Tobs roster last season in 2021 but was invited back for the entire 2022 campaign. McCaskey was asked on his decision to come to Wilson from the start this summer, and he said,
“Easiest decision ever.” – Jacob McCaskey.
McCaskey picked right where he left off 2021 becoming a fan favorite. You could tell every time he stepped on the mound or into the batter’s box the Tobs’ #1 utility player had tools necessary to deliver a big play.
The season began on May 26th with a 28-0 thumping over the CCL’s Fuquay- Varina Twins. While the opening night lineup looked different than how the Pettitt Cup Championship finished, it was what the Tobs needed to have one of their most successful opening nights in the history of the franchise. Wilson came back down to earth after their first two CPL contest did not go there way, a 10-1 loss at Morehead City, and a what could have been back-breaker 5-3 loss at home against Wilmington had people off of the diamond worried.
Tobs 3rd year Head Coach, Harry Markotay was not worried.
“The guys are gonna hit their stride, I am not worried one bit.” – Harry Markotay
Almost as he spoke it into existence, the Tobs hit their first stride of the season, rattling off six wins in-a-row. Fans could see that the team was something special on one of the first big promotional nights of the year for the Beer & BBQ festival. The Tri-City Chili Peppers came into the game 6-0 feeling mighty high, and Wilson jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. A five-run eighth was the cherry on top or the sauce on the meat for the Tobs.
The first half would go up-and-down, like a roller coaster, a win here, a loss there, but Wilson would make a final push for the first half championship going on a second five-game winning streak of the half. The Tobs and Marlins would faceoff for the final time in half number one for the poll position with one game left after. The Marlins would come from behind and capture the first half championship as the Tobs would fall in their next game as well. Wilson finished second in the division with a 16-8 record only behind MHC.
The Tobs relied on the long ball and excellent defensive all summer long. Wilson would go on to hit the most homers in the entire league with 53 in the regular season. Wilson’s defense would be regarded as one of the best in the league, finishing with a fielding percentage of 0.972 and only committing 45 errors, both of those numbers within the top-three of the CPL.
Wilson won 4 of the first 5 games in the second half, highlighted by walk-off win at home over the Martinsville Mustangs in extra innings. Wilson had not played an extra-inning affair all summer until that point. Mason Sykes tied the game at 4-4 with a no-doubter over the scoreboard in the fifth and the teams would go scoreless until the extra frame. The Mustangs scored one run, but Blake Evans tied the game at 5-5 as Trey Paige was walked with the bases loaded. That would set up Trey Jones for the walk-off scenario. While Jones did not drive in the run, he scared the pitcher into throwing a wild pitch plating Sykes for the Independence Weekend victory, with the second firework show of the year soon to follow.
The 2022 All-Star Game was in Holly Springs, hosted by the Salamanders and the Tobs sent a franchise-best eight players and one coach to represent the club. Ethan Ott was the lone starter for the Wilson ball club, but McCaskey, Sykes, Paige, Schark, Efry Cervantes, Trent Harris, Brent Francisco, who led the CPL in saves through the regular season, along with HC Harry Markotay represented the East Division.
After the ASG, the Tobs hit their lowest point of the season. A six-game losing streak ripped the hope away from many of the patrons inside HFS, who were left wondering what could have been? Little did they know the Tobs would do just enough to squeak their way into the playoffs and set up a rematch again with the Morehead City Marlins.
The Marlins took game one in a low-hitting contest at Big Rock Stadium 3-1. The Tobs had a chance late in the game to tie things up, but the Marlins were able to show why they still had the best bullpen in the CPL.
Game two in Wilson became a must-win situation for the Tobs. Second-half addition, Derrick Carter, kept the Tobs within striking distance as the Tobs needed one run to continue playing in the bottom of the ninth. Harrison Pontoli and Jake Lysaght would both draw walks with one out to put the tying run in scoring position. After a strikeout from the MHC hurler, their best pitcher remaining came out of the bullpen to faceoff with Cervantes. Down to the season’s final out, Cervantes lined a single into left field that tied the game. A misthrow from the catcher tying to knab Lysaght at third sailed the ball into left field and the Tobs would emerge victorious on the game’s last play. The pieces were set for a winner-take-all matchup the next day at 1:00 p.m.
Game three flew by in the four fames as both starting pitchers put up doughnuts. Sammy Sass got the scoring starting by hitting the first homerun of the postseason, only for Schark to grab his 13th of the season in the next inning. Harris had one of his best outings of the summer, only giving the best-hitting team in the CPL three hits and one run to show for it. The Tobs added to pair of runs in the top of the ninth to sit the Marlins down on ice. For the first time since 2019, the Wilson Tobs defeated the Morehead City Marlins at Big Rock Stadium, and the Tobs return to the Petitt Cup Championship for the first time since 2001.
The Tobs would now take on the Savannah Bananas for the first time this season in a best of three series. Wilson was low on arms and the Bananas were coming off two-days’ rest. Savannah showed no signs of rust, and the Tobs ran out of magic, falling in the last home game of the season by a final score of 8-3.
To hoist the Petitt Cup, a team must climb the mountain that is summer baseball. Injuries, departures, fatigue, are just some of the things every team in the CPL goes through each summer, and unfortunately for the hometown Tobs, it caught up to them. In front of the sold-out crowd at Historic Grayson Stadium, the Tobs season would come to an end as Savannah clinches back-to-back Petitt Cups. With the front office staff, host families, parents, and team on the field after the scoreboard had been turned off, the Tobs organization celebrated being in the moment at the final game of the college season. After all, it is not always about the destination, it is about the journey of how you got there.
A special thanks to all of the fans who came out to games at Historic Fleming Stadium this summer, as well as, tuning into the livestreams on flobaseball.tv and Greenlight. The media team appreciates every follower on social media who engages with us, it really does make our jobs easier.
Thank you to all the players, 52 guys played a game this year for the Tobs, the most in franchise history. Eight players stuck it out the whole summer, Lysaght, Harris, Schark, Stirling Thomas, Shane Rademacher, McCaskey, Paige, and Halvorson.
We want to wish our 2022 coaches the best of luck at their new jobs. Harry Markotay will begin his new job at LSU-Shreveport as an Assistant Coach & Recruiting Coordinator. Chase Wullenweber will begin as a Graduate Assistant at Georgia Southern University. Nate Fiala will become the next Pitching Coach at his alma mater, East Stroudsburg University. Wilson will not be the same without this trio.
It is going to be a long offseason but keep up to date with everything Wilson Tobs by following them on social media @Wilsontobs.
Until Next Summer,
–Brooks Hill, Director of Media Relations & Broadcasting