by Aaron Garcia
The Pineville Pioneers are the eighth and newest team in the Southern Collegiate Baseball League, a wooden-bat summer league for college players. The teams play six games a week: two nine-inning games during weeknights and a pair of seven-inning doubleheaders each weekend.
Though the team plays its home games at Pineville’s Jack Hughes Park, the Pioneers’ roster has a distinct Union County flavor, featuring four Union County-bred players.
Former Weddington stars Brad Collins (now an infielder at Gardner-Webb University) and Tyler Pilkington (a UNC Charlotte pitcher) have become regular contributors for the Pioneers, while former Sun Valley pitcher Andy Capone (Appalachian State) joined the team a few weeks ago and has eaten up some major innings since his arrival.
Monroe resident and former Charlotte Christian catcher Scott Glover (High Point University) also has contributed. Even the team’s coach, Terry Brewer, resides in Monroe.
Collins leads the team with 19 RBIs and two home runs, while Pilkington has amassed a 2-1 record with a 3.41 ERA in six starts. Capone has started one game in seven appearances and sports a 4.85 ERA, while Glover is batting .216 as a first baseman and catcher.
“I was surprised (by how many players I knew from high school),” Collins said. “I was expecting to know a few, but I actually knew a lot more than I thought I was going to.”
But aside from simply reuniting the players, the league has given the Union County products an opportunity to continue improving during their respective college teams’ off-seasons.
“Getting to throw to live hitters this summer is going to benefit me a great deal going into the fall practices,” Capone said. “It’s good competition and I think it’s going to make me a lot better.”
Entering the team’s season-ending homestand against the Spartanburg Spartans on Saturday, July 23, the Pioneers are 18-17 and have clinched the second seed in the upcoming SCBL playoffs, meaning Pineville will host a first-round playoff game on Monday, July 25.