Raiders survive Gators' rally for 4-3 win
Navarre High School ace Devante Taylor pitched two scoreless innings in relief Tuesday to preserve a 4-3 Raiders' win against District 1-5A baseball foe Escambia.
The Raiders (4-3, 2-2) scored three runs in the first inning, added one in the second and cruised until the Gators scored three times in the top of the fifth. Derrick LaMar relieved Navarre starter Justin Jordan to get the final out of the inning and Taylor, who hasn't allowed an earned run in 15 innings pitched in 2011, took the mound to start the sixth.
Escambia (1-6, 1-3) refused to go quietly, though. Pinch-hitter Anthony Bushey drew a one-out walk in the seventh and was replaced by a pinch runner. After Devin Harriman lined out to center field, Larry Eaton singled, moving the tying run to third base with the top of the Gators' order coming up. Tyler Trussell chopped a one-strike pitch to Taylor's left. Navarre second baseman Jason Frederick charged the ball, fielded and threw to Jordan at first base, barely beating Trussell for the game's final out as the would-be tying run crossed home plate.
Jordan pitched four and two-thirds innings to earn his second win despite giving up three earned runs on four hits and four bases-on-balls. He struck out two and hit two batters. Taylor allowed two hits, walked one and struck out two to earn his first save.
Trussell walked Gavin Wehby and Taylor in the bottom of the first. With one out, Jordan smashed a single into right field, scoring Wehby. Taylor and Jordan moved up on the throw home and Taylor scored on a wild pitch that let Jordan advance to third. Frederick delivered a sharply hit single into center field to drive Jordan home before Trussell fanned Chris Wheeler and got Jacob Terry to ground out to the shortstop.
Navarre freshman Christian Gill was hit by a pitch leading off the Raiders' second and moved to third on consecutive groundouts by Jarrett Zimmerly and Wehby. Catcher Dusty Jones singled home Gill to end the Raiders scoring and Jordan lined out to Trussell on the mound to end the inning.
Trussell pitched five innings, allowing five hits, walking three and striking out four Raiders. Caleb Lewis pitched a scoreless sixth for Escambia with a little help from his defense. Lewis hit Zimmerly with one out, but fielded Wehby's grounder back to the mound, spun and threw to second baseman Jake Durant to start a double play. Durant threw to first to force out Wehby, a speedy freshman.
Wehby, Jones, Taylor, Jordan and Frederick -- Navarre's first five batters -- each singled for the Raiders.
Jake Jacobs and Eaton had two hits each for the Gators.
The next two games are crucial to Navarre's chances to win its district. The Raiders are scheduled to host defending Class 5A state champion Pace at 7 p.m. Thursday and play at district-leading Milton -- which beat the Raiders 6-2 on Feb. 19 in Navarre -- at 7 p.m. Friday at Milton.