South Walton holds on for 6-5 victory

Tina Harbuck

After leading by as much as 6-0, the South Walton Seahawks held on for a 6-5 victory over the Arnold Marlins in varsity baseball action Monday night on Panama City Beach.

“We had some big hits tonight,” said South Walton Coach Nick Borthwick.

The Seahawks connected for nine hits total with Kyle Vogler belting a triple and two singles for two RBIs, Kia Wilk a three-run double and a single, and Cade Watson hit a double and a single.

“We left a lot of runners on base, but we had some big hits,” Borthwick said, noting Wilk and Vogler’s big knocks.

Although Borthwick was pleased with the hits, he’d like to see his team widen the gap when opportunity arises.

“I’d just like to separate when we had guys on … we had opportunities all night long,” he said.

In the first inning, the Seahawks took advantage of the opportunity. With Watson, Aidan Keenan and Cole Varner all on base, Wilk smacked a double up the middle to clear the bases for a 3-0 start.

South Walton sat the Marlins down quickly. After Dawson Redd singled to left, the next batter grounded out to second baseman Wilk. Seahawk pitcher Varner stuck out the next two batters to sit the Marlins down.

In the top of the third, Watson doubled up the middle for South Walton but was left stranded.

In the fourth, South Walton put up two more runs but also left the bases loaded. Wilk singled and Taylor Collier put down a bunt. The next two batters were put out on a pop fly and a strike out. Up next Vogler blasted a triple off the right center wall to score Wilk and Collier. Watson and Keenan each walked to load the bases, however, the next Seahawk struck out.

In the top of the sixth, the Seahawks picked up one more run. Cole Cartwright reached on an error and Vogler connected for a third hit of the night. Cartwright eventually made it home on a single to left by Michael Sharp.

In the bottom of the sixth, the Marlins finally had a breakthrough. With a runner on base, Jerian Hardrick blasted one over the left field fence for a two-run homer. South Walton’s Stone Bailey worked his way out of the inning with a couple of strike outs and a pop fly to right fielder Sharp.

In the top of the seventh, the Marlins made another stab at the Seahawks. William Collins and Camden Hart hit back-to-back singles and Redd reached on an error. Taylor Bradley hit a shot at third with third baseman Varner making the stop and then making the throw to home to get the lead runner. Cole Caldwell popped up to first base for the second out. Hardrick walked to force in Hart. Redd scored on a passed ball at the plate for a 6-4 game. Up next, Terry Byers hit a shot to right that was missed at second allowing Bradley to score. Byers tried to make it to third, but right fielder Sharp came up throwing and pegged him at third base to end the game, 6-5.

“We kind of got in a bind right there late … and then Sharp comes up and throws the guy out at third to end the game … Wow, what a play,” Borthwick said. “I’m glad to be in these tight games.

“It’s good to see them come out on top. It was a big team win tonight,” he said.

Up next for South Walton is a 6:30 p.m. game at home against the North Bay Haven.