Jeff Kent’s skills as a Major League Baseball player came in handy during Wednesday night’s episode of “Survivor: Philippines.”
The Immunity Challenge involved trying to use nets to catch balls launched from a sling shot.
Kent, who is Mormon and attends a ward in the Austin Texas Oak Hills Stake, netted three of the four his tribe caught, but the Tandang Tribe caught the needed five before the Kalabaw Tribe did, including some incredible catches by 25-year-old Malcolm Freberg.
That sent the Kalabaw Tribe back to Tribal Council for the second time in a row. Kent has an alliance with 50-year-old Jonathan Penner, who competed previously in “Survivor: Cook Islands” and “Survivor: Micronesia,” but considered convincing his other tribe members to vote for Penner. The other obvious option was to vote out Katie Hansen, 22, a former Miss Delaware, who struggled in the last two immunity challenges.
“I came into this game knowing that I am going to have to lie and knowing that I am going to have to jeopardize my integrity and character,” Kent said. “I’m still weighing my options and all of them have to do with furthering myself in this game.”
Kent and 24-year-old Carter Williams had the two swing votes at Tribal Council and both wanted to keep 41-year-old Denise Stapley, who joined their tribe from the Matsing Tribe. Hansen was voting for Penner and Penner for Hansen.
“I don’t know what is going to happen. You don’t know if you are going to strike out or hit a home run, but you go up to the plate (and) swing the bat,” said Kent, who has avoided telling his tribe he was a professional baseball player.
At Tribal Council, host Jeff Probst probed the tribe about blindsides and it came down to making hard decisions about people with whom they’ve worked to build relationships.
“You have to work together to build a world but vote each other out,” Probst said.
And it was Hansen who was the seventh person to leave the island.
“If the four of you are strong and united, anything can happen,” Probst said after Hansen had left.
The episode also took some unexpected twists Wednesday night.
Instead of one tribe winning the reward challenge by beating the other tribe in the challenge, they negotiated an ending.
The challenge included rolling a human-sized wicker ball into a goal in a modified game of soccer. However, the three-on-three game quickly came to a standstill and there was little movement on the muddy field for almost an hour.
Penner brought up a possible trade. In the end, Penner, along with the rest of the Kalabaw Tribe, traded the remainder of their bag of rice for the challenge’s reward — eating a picnic of sandwiches, soups and brownies in a dry spot.
Also included in the reward were letters from home on Day 15 of the 39-day challenge.
“I’ve got a pretty big family back home," Kent said of his wife and four children. "Having the wife and kids write to you after suffering through rain and no food and getting banged up, it was pretty neat.”
The Tandang Tribe was running short on rice before trading the reward challenge win.
But not everyone in each tribe was 100 percent happy with the decision.
“I’m afraid this is going to be one of the dumbest moves of 'Survivor',” said Abi-Maria Gomes of the Tandang Tribe.
Kalabaw’s Penner was confident he could catch fish for his tribe. And he did — two small ones.
“Survivor: Philippines” airs Wednesday evenings on CBS.