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Sharks fail to make playoffs

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WILMINGTON, N.C. — The Wilmington Sharks took a one-run lead into the seventh inning but, with their playoff hopes on the line, allowed five unanswered runs to score as Outer Banks beat the Sharks 7-3.

With Asheboro and Wilmington tied at 27-28 in the Coastal Plain League Standings, the Sharks took to the field for three-plus innings Tuesday at Buck Hardee Field against the Daredevils. Having left off at 2-2 in the bottom of the sixth on July 17, the game needed to be finished per CPL rules.

With Greg Fujii on second in the last of the sixth with one out, Conor Szczerba, the first batter of the evening, doubled to right-center to score Fujii and make it 3-2 Sharks.

All looked well until the eighth when Rich Witten hit a solo home run to straight-away center to tie it at 3. After Sam Feiner and Travis Feiner reached, Patrick Mincey came in to relieve Patrick Szczerba (L, 1-3). Eight straight balls waked Michael Lang and then Brock McAllister to score Sam Feiner and give Outer Banks a 4-3 lead. A walk to Jake Williams scored Travis Feiner and stretched the lead to 5-3.

The Sharks tried to rally in their half of the eighth, but Richie Allen grounded into a 4-6-3 double play to end the inning.

Things got grimmer for Wilmington in the ninth when a throwing error by Aaron Miller on a Tucker Frawley grounder scored two runs to make it 7-3.

In the last half inning of the season for the Sharks, John Cornely struck out Chris Mazza, Alex Hill and Miller to end the game and the season for both teams. Jim Birmingham (W, 2-1) went 2.2 innings gave up three hits, no runs and struck out three to get the win.

The loss concludes the Wilmington Sharks season at 26-28, just half-a-game back of Asheboro for the final Petitt Cup Playoffs spot. It is the best Sharks finish since 2005, but the streak of no playoffs will continue for the eighth year. We will see you in 2011 for another summer of baseball from the Port City.