Zane Denton, Bill Knight split HR Derby; Bananas fall to RedWolves, 8-0

It was a wild night in BananaLand on Saturday, mostly thanks to the late start in the game between the Savannah Bananas and Florence RedWolves.

Though first pitch was originally scheduled for 7:00 p.m. ET, complications in the travel plans for Florence pushed back the start time to 8:45 p.m. ET. How it took so long to change a tire on a bus is beyond me, but the RedWolves had to “show n go” as we call it in the biz. No batting practice or any sort of preparation for the RedWolves.

PreGame Shenanigans

So the Nanners and their ever forward-thinking administration had to come up with some ideas to kill the time as fans had already begun filing into the stadium. Part of that included sending the players into the grandstands for some autographs and pictures with the fans.

But the main attraction even before the game started was a home run derby at Historic Grayson Stadium. This wasn’t your traditional derby, though. Instead, the contestants, (Tristan Peters, Bill Knight and Zane Denton) had to go station-to-station, sending a ball over the wall at each before moving onto the next one. They have two minutes to collect as many dingers as possible.

The first station was the easiest. From shallow center field, they toss the ball to themselves and send it over the wall. Piece of cake. Can of corn. Piece of corn cake (gross). The second station was a tee set up at second base. A bit harder but all three Bananas moved on with ease from that because they are simply built different. The third station was between the mound and second base but this time, coach Tyler Gillum gave a soft toss. This proved to be a bit more challenging, but all three guys moved on without much of a challenge.

The fourth and final station is where it got real. With however much time remaining, the derby hitters get in the box to face coach Adam “Mo” Moreau. Now, many think Mo gets his nickname from the first two letters of his last name. But if you know Mo like I do (he was our gracious Party Animals coach this spring), you know he gets his nickname from the cutter he throws during batting practice—a la the GOAT Mariano Rivera. I’m kidding. Kind of. He may or may not have broken one of my bats in BP.

After completing all three stations, each player tries to hit as many BP homers as they can. Peters failed to get one out during the BP portion while Zane Denton and Bill Knight each got two out during that part of the derby, went to sudden death and eventually tied.

So the count for the derby: Denton & Knight (5), Peters (3).

An Unusual Loss

We’ll blame this on the wacky change in start time and the fact that the Bananas had been at the ballpark for six hours even before first pitch. The team with the best ERA in the CPL allowed seven runs on the night. It started with Kyle Luigs, who allowed four runs (three earned) in the first inning. He settled in after that for the next three innings, tossing up scoreless frames until exiting after four innings. Luigs struck out five and allowed five hits in his 4.0 innings.

Southpaw Tom Vincent took over in the top of the fifth inning and allowed a three-run home run to RedWolves designated hitter Lukas Polanco. Lefty Andrew Armstrong limited the damage in relief of Vincent.

Just as surprising, the bats went pretty quiet. It happens. It’s baseball—a game notorious for averages. They did their best to rally in some innings, including one where the Nanners had bases loaded with no outs and failed to capitalize. It was almost like a really bad version of Freaky Friday where the Bananas just couldn’t get it going. The Nanners wound up with just six hits on the night as a team, two of which came off the bats of Jesse Sherrill and Bill Knight each.

It’s a tough life being the best summer collegiate team in the nation because expectations are big every night the Bananas take the field. Let’s be honest, at 26-4, it’s not like the Bananas are hurting for W’s.

What’s Next for the Nanners?

The Bananas (26-4) will get a few days off before returning to Grayson Stadium on Wednesday night to host the Lexington County Blowfish (17-14) with first pitch set for 7:00 p.m. ET.

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