The Navarre High School baseball team returned to action Tuesday, April 2, after an 11-day layoff and hosted district rival Escambia. Navarre had soundly defeated the Gators earlier in the year, but the outcome in this contest would be much different.
Escambia scored two runs in the first inning on two hits. After the Gators had added another run in the second and had the bases loaded with no outs, Navarre pitcher Draven Grimes made his first mound appearance of the year and promptly got two ground balls to end the threat.
With the score 4-0 in the top of the fifth, Escambia first baseman Justin Simpson belted a home run. Two subsequent Raider errors led to three more runs to put Navarre in a deep 8-0 hole. They attempted to climb out of it in the bottom of the frame and scored one run, but they could get no closer and the game ended 8-1.
Navarre 4, Pensacola 3
Navarre traveled to Pensacola on Thursday, April 4, to take on the Pensacola High School Tigers. After the Raiders were retired in order in the top of the first, Navarre once again was victimized by the long ball. With a runner on base, Jonathan Bennett drove a Jared Gonzalez offering over the centerfield fence.
Devon Spurling walked to start the fourth inning. Bryant Watson replaced Spurling on the bases and advanced to second when Robby Miller was hit by a pitch. Kevin Jones' single loaded the bases for Gonzalez and his sacrifice fly plated Watson, but Miller was thrown out trying to take third on the play. Andrew Berteau and Kyle Rogers drew back-to-back walks to load the bases again. Michael Sandle, who had been brought up for the game from the freshman team, delivered a single over the first baseman's head to drive in Jones and tie the score. Navarre added two runs in the fifth when the Tiger pitcher had control issues. With one out he walked three consecutive Raider batters. Gonzalez's single drove in Miller and another walk forced in Jones.
Pensacola made it a one-run game in the bottom of the frame and threatened again in the seventh. Two singles put the tying and winning runs on base, but Gonzalez got a line-drive out and a strikeout to end the suspense and the game. The win was his third 4-3 complete game victory of the year.
Pine Forest 6, Navarre 5
The Raiders made their second trip to Pensacola in as many nights on Friday, April 5, this time to take on the Pine Forest Eagles. The game was scoreless until the third inning when a questionable call by the home plate umpire killed a possible Raiders’ rally. Kyle Rogers led off the inning and was hit by a pitch. Jason Frederick laid down a bunt to move Rogers into scoring position, but an errant throw by the pitcher went to the right-field fence and Rogers was waved home. Rogers made a picture-perfect head-first slide and, as his left hand swiped the plate, the catcher received the throw. He pivoted and fell back onto the outstretched Rogers. Even though the catcher apparently failed to tag Rogers, the umpire signaled “out.”
Instead of a run in with no outs, the Raiders had no runs and one out. Spurling was next up and was hit by a pitch and Robby Miller walked. Kevin Jones' clutch double drove in Frederick, Spurling and Berteau, who was running for Miller, who was making his first pitching appearance for the Raiders.
Pine Forest got a run back in the bottom of the inning and added two more in the fourth to tie the score.
Navarre had its chance again in the fifth when Miller and Gonzalez both singled and Chandler Moorer walked. Berteau (again running for Miller) headed home on a passed ball and appeared to slide under the tag, but the plate umpire called Berteau out, ending the Raiders’ threat.
Navarre did reclaim the lead in the top of the sixth. Rogers walked, Frederick singled and Spurling was hit by a pitch. Miller helped his cause with a double that drove in Rogers and Frederick. Consecutive strike outs prevented the Raiders from doing more damage.
Things fell apart for Navarre in the bottom of the sixth when the first two Eagles batters reached safely with hits. An error, a sac fly, and another hit gave Pine Forest the three runs they needed to take the lead and get the 6-5 victory.
Navarre was scheduled to play four consecutive nights beginning Tuesday, April 9. Their only home game is tonight, Thursday April 11, against Washington.