Navarre erased a 5-0 deficit with five second-inning runs, scored a go-ahead run in the third and shut down visiting Gulf Breeze in a 6-5 come-from-behind high school baseball win Thursday.
"I'm proud of them," Raiders head coach Mickey O'Quinn said after the game. "To be down five runs in the second inning and come back to win...they really showed some character and heart tonight."
None more so than senior pitcher Brock Secondine, who started and struggled through the first two innings before shutting down the Dolphins' offense. In the first two innings, he allowed five earned runs on six hits and a hit batter. In four subsequent frames, he allowed just two hits and walked four.
"You really have to just relax, have a clear mind and a short memory," said Secondine, who improved his record to 2-1, of pitching through adversity. "That's what my coaches have always told me."
Secondine helped himself by striking out nine Gulf Breeze hitters and got solid -- sometimes sparkling -- defensive play from the Raiders' fielders. The Dolphins' three-run second inning ended when Max McDaniel tried to stretch a double into a triple. Devante Taylor fielded the ball in right center field and gunned it to shortstop Jared Gonzalez, whose throw to Chris Wheeler at third easily beat McDaniel.
Catcher Dusty Jones, the Raiders' junior captain, erased three Dolphins base runners with his strong right arm. A snap throw caught Gulf Breeze runner Cameron Davies, who had drawn a leadoff walk, off guard at first base for the first out of the third inning; Jase Brown singled to lead off the Dolphins' fourth and tried to steal second, but Gonzalez fielded Jones' throw on a short hop that led his glove into the sliding runner for the tag; and after Kyle McGee and Trey Baker singled and walked to start the sixth, Jones' throw to second baseman Jason Frederick caught a pinch-runner in a pickle that ended with his being tagged out by Wheeler at third. The Dolphins didn't threaten again.
"When you have a good starter on the mound, it helps your confidence," Jones said of the Raiders' improved defense. "Brock gave us a good outing and we were able to get some runs and get back in it."
Jacob Terry and Drew Berteau slapped back-to-back doubles with two outs in the third inning to give Navarre a 6-5 lead. Taylor started the five-run second inning with a triple to right field, Gonzalez walked and Terry reached on a bunt single that scored Taylor. Wheeler reached on an error, reloading the bases, and Berteau and Gavin Wehby drew run-scoring bases-on-balls. Jones grounded to the Dolphins' shortstop who tossed to second base to force out Wehby. Wheeler scored on the play and Berteau moved to third and scored on a wild pitch.
Terry singled, doubled and scored twice in three at-bats and Taylor singled, tripled and scored a run. Both players had an RBI. Brandon Passalacqua retired the side in the top of the seventh, also with help from his friends. Frederick had to charge Justin Ratte's chopper past the mound and hurry his throw to first, but made the play for the first out. Jordan dived to his left to stab Taylor Busby's line drive in foul territory for the second out and Passalacqua fanned McDaniel for the game's final out.
Tom Bixler started and pitched three innings for Gulf Breeze, giving up all six runs. Andy Lucak shut out the Raiders over the final three innings. Jase Brown had two of the Dolphins' eight hits.
Navarre evened its record at 6-6 overall. The Raiders are scheduled to host Harrison County, Ky., for a junior varsity game at 5 p.m. and a varsity contest at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 23. The Raiders, 2-4 in District 1-5A, will host loop rivals Tate and Pine Forest on March 24 and March 25.