South Walton Seahawks defeat Jay in district semis

Tina Harbuck

The South Walton Seahawks chipped away at the Jay Royals for a 9-5 win in the semifinals of the District 3-1A baseball tournament played at Northwest Florida State College in Niceville on Tuesday night.

The Seahawks advanced to the championship game against the Chipley Tigers on Thursday night. But win or lose, the Seahawks advance to the Regional Semifinals slated for May 10.

As for Tuesday’s game, “We survived and advance,” South Walton Coach Nick Borthwick said.

“We scored in every inning except the sixth. We just never could get that big breakout inning. We were threatening the whole game,” Borthwick said.

He went on to give a lot of credit to Jay's pitchers for competing and keeping the Royals in the game.

“But that’s just playoff baseball ... that’s what it’s like. And that’s what we expect moving forward,” Borthwick said.

In the win over Jay, South Walton got on the board first with two runs in the bottom of the first inning on two walks and a couple errors by the Royals. Austin Garofalo and Chase Miles scored the two runs.

In the top of the second, Jay put one run in the books on two hits. Logan Dobson and Lane Burgess hit back-to-back singles. Matthew Saylor reached on an error and Dobson scored. South Walton got out of the inning with a double play from Garofalo, Hunter Crawley and Taylor Collier.

South Walton put one run up in the second. Crawley reached on an error, moved around on a hit from Tyler Holland and then scored on a sacrifice from Garofalo for a 3-1 game.

The Royals evened the score in the top of the third. Blayne Miller reached on a throwing error and Connor Moye walked. After a catch by right fielder Harris Barton, Dillon Riley belted a double to left for two RBIs. Drew Tubb followed with a hit, but the next two Royals grounded out.

South Walton got the advantage back in the bottom half. Chase Miles smacked a triple to center field and then scored on a ground out by Richards for a 4-3 game.

In the fourth, the Seahawks took care of business and shut the Royals down on a pop fly and two ground outs, then came in and scored three runs. Crawley walked and Kyle Vogler hit a bunt single. Holland ripped a double to right to score Crawley. The Royals intentionally walked Garofalo. Garofalo, a senior, has a .540 batting average with 47 hits, including 15 home runs. The next batter struck out then Miles took one deep to sacrifice in a run. Richards singled to right for an RBI, giving the Seahawks a 7-3 lead.

In the top of the fifth, the Royals scored what would be their last two runs. Connor Moye reached on an error and Trace Seib singled. The next batter walked and then Tubb hit a fielder’s choice with two runs scoring.

South Walton got the two runs back in the bottom half. Crawley singled to left and Vogler walked, both scored on a single by Barton.

In the last two innings, neither team scored with the Seahawks taking the win 9-5.

“We’ve just got to keep getting better at the little things,” Borthwick said as he walked off the field.

Richards started on the mound for the Seahawks and went 4 ½ innings and faced 23 batters. He struck out three, walked two and gave up seven hits. Collier came in midway of the fifth and faced seven batters, walked one and gave up one hit. Kia Wilk threw the last inning, facing three batters for two strikeouts.