WILSON, N.C. – Another successful and entertaining filled Wilson Tobs season has unfortunately come to an end. The 2018 summer season brought the Wilson community a winning team, division champions, community involvement, and top-notch fan entertainment.
The addition of veteran Coach Bryan Hill and his recruiting ability saw a 180-degree on-field turnaround from the previous season. The Tobacconists were able to come out hot in the second half and earn themselves the reward of 2nd Half North Division Champions. The Wilson Tobs then defeated the Peninsula Pilots 4-3 to claim the Coastal Plain League North Division Championship. The Tobs would fall just short of reaching the Petitt Cup Championship as Morehead City recorded a 4-3 victory in the Northeast Region Championship game.
More than 45,000 fans enjoyed watching a Wilson Tobs game at Historic Fleming Stadium in 2018. The Tobs would like to thank all the amazing and irreplaceable fans that made the season special. Off the field, the Tobs kept fans entertained with numerous promotional and community events throughout the season. The Tobs held several events that directly impacted the Wilson community in a very helpful and positive way. The 6th Annual Home Run for Hunger Celebration raised over 25,000 pounds of food for 15 local food pantries to feed those who were in need. Paint the Park Pink Night was another success that saw over $3000 raised in pink jersey funds for the Wilson Community Health Center to help underprivileged women who cannot afford mammograms for breast cancer detection.
The Tobs were able to bring over 2,000 kids to the ballpark for Super Splash Day, where each kid enjoyed a baseball game as well as multiples games and water features. The Tobs kept their reading initiative promise due to the Read Around the Bases and Swing for the Fences program. These programs provided FREE tickets for elementary and middle school students who read books at a certain quality level. These students were then honored on field at the ballpark at a Tobs game, some of which receiving money towards school supplies. Other notable community programs were Star Wars Night (Make a Wish Fundraiser), Beer & BBQ Festival, Diggin' in the Diamond (Cruise & Vegas Trip Giveaway), Military & Local Heroes Appreciation Night (Enlistment Ceremony & Scholarship Giveaway), Host Family Appreciation Nights, Youth Camps (3), Thirsty Thursdays, All You Can Eat Tuesdays, FREE Field of Dreams for City of Wilson Little Leaguers, Whirligig Night, Bark in the Park, and many more!
"I wanted to take this time and say thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who made this season a success. It is tough to see the season come to an end, but I am extremely proud of all the hard work everyone put forth this summer. It is a true honor to be part of the Tobs organization and call the great city of Wilson my home. The tremendous amount of success we had on the field and the impact that we had on the community is 2nd to none. We were able to impact the lives of many, provided top-notch entertainment, help the community, and we did it all through the greatest sport there is, Baseball." - Tobs General Manager Mike Bell
On the field, the Tobs had four players selected to the 2018 CPL All-Star Show. Patrick Frick (SS/Wake Forest) and Brenton Doyle (OF/Shepherd) were selected as starters, while Tyler Grauer (LHP/Indiana State) and Luis Acosta (RHP/Texas Rio Grande) represented the Tobs pitching staff as the closing pitchers of the American League. Kevin McGowan (IF/La Salle) was added as the 5th Tob to the all-star roster at the DH position due to his clutch hitting. Outfielder Antwaun Tucker (OF/Longwood) was named to the CPL Select roster as the team faced the USA Collegiate National team in Cary, N.C. at the USA Baseball National Training Complex.
As chosen by the Tobs coaching staff and organization, Doyle was named the Tobs Most Valuable Player for 2018. Doyle played in 46 games for the Tobs and led Wilson in hits (57), runs (31), doubles (10), triples (3), home runs (3), runs batted in (24), and stolen bases (15). Chris Kernen (RHP/NC Central) was given the Arm of Gold award after registering a 2.16 earned run average through eight starts for the Tobs. Kernen posted a 3-2 record to go along with a complete game shutout against Martinsville on June 16. The Silver Slugger award went to Kevin McGowan (IF/La Salle) who appeared in 41 games for Wilson. McGowan tallied 38 hits and eight doubles to go along with two home runs and 22 RBI. He finished with the second-most at-bats (158) behind Doyle and finished with a .241 batting average. The Tobs Soul award was given to Caleb Dean (UTL/Missouri Baptist) who helped to guide the team as a vocal leader. Dean tallied 29 hits (10 doubles, two triples, three home runs) and 22 RBI. He finished the season with a .985 fielding percentage, committing just three errors in 205 total chances.
"I couldn't have asked for a better staff to work with on and off the field. From game day operations to community events the organization did an outstanding job. Hats off to my assistant coaches and players as well for making the 2018 Tobs season a success and in being a major part of bringing home the North Division title. Their dedication to the team and winning mentality showed each and every day during the summer. We came up a little short in the ultimate goal of bringing home the Pettit Cup to Wilson but the young men gave it their all each night and I couldn't be more proud of them. I also want to thank the town of Wilson for the support all summer as well as the hospitality that was shown to my family and myself throughout the summer. Tobs Roll!" - Tobs Head Coach Bryan Hill
The Tobs want to extend a special "thank you" to our awesome season ticket holders, host families, and corporate partners for their continued support of Wilson Tobs Baseball. With the help of the "team behind the team" the Tobs organization helps make an impact on the lives of young men who take the field and those that call Wilson home.
The fun at Historic Fleming Stadium doesn't end with the Tobs season, the ballpark is a year-round entertainment facility for the community and surrounding areas. The next upcoming event is our High School Fall League featuring teams from Greenville to Raleigh! Games start September 17th, so be sure to come out and enjoy a game!