The Newark Pilots (29-21) finished the regular season on a high note with a 9-5 victory over the Utica Blue Sox on Sunday night at Colburn Park. With the victory the Pilots split the season series with Utica 2-2.
Utica scratched across a run with a sacrifice fly from Taylor Olmstead (Southern New Hampshire) in the top of the first to take a 1-0 lead. However, it would be all Pilots after that point, as they put four runs in the bottom of the first inning.
Julian Gallup (Niagara) knotted the score with an RBI single. Bo-Hao Huang (Fu Jen Catholic) would follow with a two-run double to give Newark a 3-1 lead and Chase Cockrell (Ole Miss) would drive the fourth run in with an RBI triple, his second against Utica on the season.
The Pilots would add on in the second with an RBI groundout from Sam Fragale (Virginia Tech) and then Gallup would score on wild pitch later in the inning to make it 6-1. Jordan Swiss would add an RBI groundout in the third to make it 7-1.
Sam Harrington (Itawamba C.C.) made his final start of the regular season and pitched well enough to earn his third win. Harrington wasn’t overpowering with only one strikeout, but he took advantage of the spacious Colburn Park, inducing 11 flyball outs over six innings of two-run ball.
“It was huge,” Harrington said of the win. “It gave us momentum going into the playoffs, which we really needed going in to Elmira tomorrow.”
In the seventh, Gallup would triple and then come around to score on a wild pitch to make it 8-2. Gallup reached four times to extend his on-base streak to 14 games and also scored three runs in the victory.
“I was telling [Coach Edmondson] today, ‘I love how we’re playing right now’,” Gallup said after the win. “I love the vibes, the pitching and how we’re handling ourselves. In all honesty I don’t feel like we’re going to go home tomorrow.”
Utica mounted a small comeback attempt in the ninth with a three-run triple from Olmstead, but Max Ludka (Saginaw Valley State) closed the door with a three-inning save, his third of the year.
“We’re on a little bit of a roll right now,” Asst. coach Cooper Belyea said of the second consecutive win against a playoff team. There’s just a one-game series in the playoffs so hopefully we keep it going. You don’t want to play the Pilots in August.”
The Pilots will begin postseason play with a one-game playoff against the No. 1 seed Elmira Pioneers on Monday at Dunn Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. and a broadcast of the game can be heard here.