Sam Bass fanned 11 Navarre batters and sprinkled seven hits over seven innings Tuesday in a 5-1 complete-game high school baseball win at Fort Walton Beach.
The game was the first game of the eight-team 2011 Northwest Florida Bulldog Classic -- formerly the Powerade Classic -- for both teams.
The Vikings broke open a close game with five straight hits in a three-run fifth inning, all against relief pitcher Derek LaMar. The junior walked the sixth batter he faced in the inning to reload the bases with no outs. Coach Mickey O'Quinn called on lefthander Cory Catyb, another junior, to relieve LaMar and Catyb immediately caught a break when Dale Smith grounded to Raiders' shortstop Jared Gonzalez, whose throw to catcher Dusty Jones at home easily beat Trey Marshall to force the inning's first out. With the bases still loaded, Catyb struck out Brandon Horn and got Bass to pop out to Gonzalez.
Gonzalez, the Raiders' freshman shortstop, scored Navarre's only run of the game after leading off the Raiders' third with a single. With one out, he took second and scored on consecutive singles by freshman left fielder Gavin Wehby and Jones.
Senior Devante Taylor, who hadn't pitched since a March 11 game at Milton because of a sore shoulder, started for Navarre and allowed two runs in three innings pitched. He allowed five hits, walked two and struck out two in his first loss this season. At the plate, Taylor went 2-for-3 and stole two bases (see note below).
Justin Jordan had two hits for the Raiders.
Bass, a senior, beat the Raiders for the second time in 2011. He struck out 11 Navarre batters in five innings March 1 at Navarre and allowed two earned runs on four hits, four walks and a hit batter in the Vikings' 9-4 win.
Fort Walton Beach designated hitter Phillip Gabes had three hits in four at-bats, including two doubles, and scored twice to lead the Vikings' attack. J.D. Little and Hunter Sullivan both went 2-for-3 and scored a run each and Marshall had a two-run single.
Weather permitting, Navarre (7-9) is scheduled to play at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Niceville (10-3) in the second game of the Bulldog Classic and at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Crestview (9-5). Crestview lost 10-6 to visiting Pace (11-2); Carlisle, Ohio, won 3-2 at Choctawhatchee (7-7); Niceville beat visiting Northmont, Ohio, 7-0; and Milton (10-6-1) lost 4-3 to visiting Shoals Christian Academy (11-13) from Florence, Ala., in other Bulldog Classic games on Tuesday. In a scheduling quirk, the Ohio teams are not competing in the Bulldog Classic but their results against participating teams will be used in seeding Friday's finals. The championship game is scheduled to be played at 7 p.m. Friday at Crestview. The teams competing in the classic are Choctawhatchee, Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, Milton, Navarre, Niceville, Pace and Shoals Christian Academy.
NOTE: Thanks to Navarre Baseball Booster Club President Roy Terry for researching the proper way to score Taylor's first hit, originally called a fielder's choice. After Jordan singled to lead off the second inning, Taylor tried to "slash" bunt a ptich from Bass but popped it in the air into short right field. Jordan had to wait to see if the ball was caught so he wouldn't be forced out at first for a double play. He went about halfway between first and second bases and, when the ball dropped between a trio of Vikings, couldn't beat right fielder Drew Smith's throw to second base. Taylor was safe at first.
According to Terry, "The fielder's choice rule in the OBR (Official Baseball Rules) is pretty specific: 'FIELDER’S CHOICE is the act of a fielder who handles a fair grounder and, instead of throwing to first base to put out the batter-runner, throws to another base in an attempt to put out a preceding runner.' Note that it says 'grounder.. Also, I checked several interpretations of the rule online and they all referred to the intent of the wording as describing a 'routine out at first'. Neither of these were the case on Devante's hit, and it is much more logical that it was a hit since had there not been a base runner, there was no way he would have been thrown out." Terry uses Game Changer software to digitally score the varsity Raiders' games. Fans can view box scores by checking the Live Scoreboard at www.navarrebaseball.com.