Destin Marlins are baseball champs, again

Tina Harbuck
The Destin Log

Not one, two or even three, but four times the Destin Marlin baseball team has earned the title of county champions after beating the Bruner Spartans 13-6 in the Okaloosa County Middle School Baseball Tournament. 

Destin has brought home the trophy four years in a row, basically. They won the county championship in 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022. The 2020 season never really happened due to the pandemic. 

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"It was a heck of a team effort today,” said Destin Coach Matt Cawthon as he walked off the field Tuesday in Destin. 

The Destin Middle School Marlin baseball team show off their first-place hardware after beating Bruner in the championship game Tuesday evening in Destin.

The Marlins got in an early hole 2-0. But they exploded on the Spartans in the third inning with five runs and a two-run homer from Palmer Robbins. 

“It was a fast ball,” Robbins said with a big smile on his face and the team celebrated after it was all said and done. 

Robbins said it “felt good” when it hit the bat and he knew it was gone. This was Robbins' first home-run for the Marlins this season. 

Destin Middle School's Palmer Robbins, center, celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the Marlin's game Tuesday against Bruner Middle School.

In the fourth, Destin picked up three more runs on two hits. Griffin Cann singled and then Jordan Figueroa blasted one over the left field fence. Destin led 8-2. 

In the top of the fifth, Bruner battled and scored two runs. 

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But the Marlins came back with five more runs on two hits. Caleb Wright connected for a single and Figueroa singled. Destin was up 13-4. 

Not giving up, Bruner scored two more in the sixth on one hit. 

“They (Bruner) are a tough team.” Cawthon said. 

Destin Middle School Baseball Coach Matt Cawthon talks to his team between innings of Tuesday evening's home game against Bruner Middle School.

“We knew it would be a tough game coming into the championship game. They played us tough all year long and they played everybody in the league tough all year. Bruner did a fantastic job. It was a very competitive championship game,” Cawthon said. 

Destin finished the regular season 12-2 with a 10-1 loss to Ruckel in the first game of the season and then a 9-5 loss to Emerald Coast Middle in a non-conference game. Destin run-ruled Meigs, Davidson, Shoal River, Pryor and Ruckel. Earlier in the season Destin beat Bruner 5-1 and then 17-10. 

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But even after the loss early in the season Cawthon had an idea, they would be in the championship game. 

Destin's Jace Cunningham makes the thow to first base after tagging out Bruner runner Will Wortman at second base during Tuesday evening's game at Destin.

“We knew … we’ve got guys that have been in the program for several years. And at the end of the day, first and foremost, they are just a group of hardworking young men. We knew if they put the work in, we’d be in this game at the end of the season,” Cawthon said. 

Not only did Figueroa connect for two hits and five RBIs he pitched four innings for Destin with six strikeouts, five hits and three walks.  

Jace Cunningham finished up the last three with five strike outs, one walk and two hits. 

Destin Middle School Baseball Coach Matt Cawthon talks to his team between innings of Tuesday evening's home game against Bruner Middle School.

“It feels great to be a champion,” Figueroa said. 

“We knew we had it in the bag,” he added after that big inning in the third. 

"It feels awesome,” Cunningham said. “Just being out here my fourth year … feels awesome to be a part of the team and bring one home."

Destin Middle School's Vance Kirby slides into home as Bruner Middle School catcher Cameron Cook jumps up for the throw during Tuesday evening's game at Destin.

In the semi-final game with Davidson on Monday, Destin won 13-3. 

Destin collected 10 hits in the victory with Caleb Wright leading the way with three hits. Landon Ullrich blasted a two-run homer in the first inning over the centerfield fence and Cannon Wilbur blasted a shot out centerfield for a grand slam in the second. Robbins had two hits, Brody Ray, Cann, Figueroa and Vance Kirby each had one hit. 

Wilbur pitched all four innings against Davidson and struck out three, walked three and gave up three hits.