With the game deadlocked at the end of regulation, the Bay High Tornadoes slipped in a run in the bottom of the eighth to beat the South Walton Seahawks 3-2 for the 5A District 1 title Thursday night at Walton High School in DeFuniak Springs.
Both teams will advance in the state playoffs. Bay High will host Marianna on Tuesday and South Walton will have to travel to Tallahassee to take on Rickards, both Regional Quarterfinals in the 5A Baseball Championship.
As for Thursday in DeFuniak, South Walton struggled making about four errors with the Tornadoes taking advantage for the win.
“We just had a hard time making routine plays. It was a big game,” said South Walton Coach Nick Borthwick. “We threw strikes … and the guys continued to compete.”
But in the end it just wasn’t enough.
South Walton took the early lead scoring two runs in the top of the first inning against top seed Bay High. Cade Watson was hit by a pitch and stole around to third. The next batter struck out then Kyle Vogler walked. Michael Sharp walked to load the bases. Kai Wilk hit a fielder’s choice and Watson scored. Aidan Keenan followed with a base hit to left center to score Vogler. Cole Varner hit a fielder’s choice and Sharpe was put out at the plate. The next batter struck out, but the Seahawks led 2-0.
Bay answered with one in the bottom half. Dawson Erbacher walked and scored on a hit from Armani Larry.
In the second, South Walton got a runner on but never made it past second base.
After giving up a hit in the bottom half, the Seahawks shut the Tornadoes down with Keenan pulling off a double play.
In the third, Bay evened the score. Armani singled up the middle and moved around on a throwing error and later scored on a fielder’s choice shot from Austin Childree.
The next four innings were scoreless with both teams struggling to get a hit. South Walton’s Watson got a single in the fourth and Bay’s Zach Miller connected for a base hit in the seventh.
In the top of the eighth, South Walton threatened with a couple of runners on base. Michael Sharp walked and moved around to second on a bunt sacrifice from Wilk. Keenan walked then both runners advanced on a passed ball. Varner hit a fly ball to center field for an out and then Taylor Collier grounded out to leave the runners stranded.
In the bottom half, Bay’s Garrett Cullen singled to right and then moved around to second on a passed ball. Cade Watson struck out the next batter, then Jenson Barker hit a shot past Varner at third to score Cullen for the win.
For the game, South Walton used three pitchers. Varner started and faced 10 batters, striking out two, walking four and giving up two hits. Wilk came in and faced 10 batters, struck out one, walked one and gave up one hit. Watson, a sophomore, finished up facing 18 batters, striking out five, walking two and giving up two hits.
“I’m proud of our team and we’re going to keep battling, and make a run in the playoffs,” Borthwick said.