NICEVILLE -- Navarre's baseball Raiders squeezed home the go-ahead run in the top of the seventh inning Wednesday and held on for a 2-1 win at "The Hill" in Niceville.
"This is baseball," Navarre head coach Mickey O'Quinn said after what is believed to be the Raiders' first-ever varsity baseball win against the Eagles (10-4). "Great pitching on both sides, trying to bunt the runners over, doing the little things it takes to scratch out a win...."
Navarre improved to 8-9 overall and 1-1 in the Northwest Florida Bulldog Classic with the win.
Pitchers Brock Secondine of Navarre and Mikel Belcher of Niceville pitched masterfully through six innings. But, with the score tied 1-1, Raiders' catcher Cale Secondine smacked a leadoff single to end a streak of 12 straight batters retired by Belcher. Pinch-runner Kyle Rogers went to second and third on wild pitches and Devante Taylor drew a base-on-balls. With runners at first and third with no outs, Niceville coach Cory Hamrick called Nick Junger out of the Eagles' bullpen.
Jason Frederick, Navarre's freshman second baseman, was the first batter to face Junger and, with no balls and a strike, rolled a perfect bunt up the first base line, scoring Rogers from third with the eventual game-winning run.
"That was a safety squeeze, we were reading the ball," O'Quinn said of the play. "If (Frederick) didn't get it down the first base line, (Rogers)wouldn't have gone. Jason Frederick came through with a beautiful ball."
Taylor moved to second and Frederick was safe at first when second baseman Travis Sweeney couldn't handle a low throw from first baseman Ben Devall, who fielded the ball.
Junger scooped up a bunt by Chris Wheeler and threw to third base to force out Taylor for the inning's first out. Cory Catyb struck out and Jacob Terry hit a high fly caught by Sweeney to end the inning, but Secondine retired the Eagles in order to secure the complete-game victory and improve his record to 3-2. Unofficially, the senior hurler allowed one earned run and just two hits, walked none, hit two batters and struck out five.
"Brock Secondine just pitched an outstanding ball game," O'Quinn said. "He told me getting on the bus today we were going to win, and he came out and backed it up. Their guy threw a great game, he had 13 strikeouts, but Brock met him pitch for pitch."
Double plays to end the first and second innings helped Navarre preserve its one-run lead into the third, when designated hitter Josh Gordon reached on an error, moved to second on a groundout by Ranson Early, advanced to third on a called balk and scored on a single by Sweeney. Catcher Cale Secondine, Brock's younger brother, threw to shortstop Jared Gonzalez when Sweeney threatened to steal second, and the infield successfully ran the Eagles' second baseman down and tagged him for the second out. Corey Eller popped out to Cale Secondine for the final out.
Navarre took the lead in the first when junior designated hitter Dusty Jones ripped a leadoff double against Belcher. After the senior right-hander fanned Gavin Wehby and Justin Jordan, Cale Secondine doubled to the wall in left center field, scoring Jones. Belcher struck out Devante Taylor to end the inning.
With runners at first and second base in the bottom of the first, senior right fielder Kyle McDorman, who recently committed to play baseball at Northwest Florida State College, smashed a shot at Navarre third baseman Chris Wheeler. Wheeler knocked the ball down and scrambled to retrieve it behind the third-base sack. He stepped on the base to force out Sweeney, who led off with a double for the Eagles, and fired to Jordan at first to get McDorman and end the inning.
Niceville third baseman Taylor Saris reached safely on an error with one out in the Eagles' second, but Brock Secondine leaped to snag a line drive by Tyler Kinard and threw to first before Saris could get safely back to the bag.
Belcher pitched six innings, struck out 13 Raiders and gave up both earned runs on just three hits and two walks.
Cale Secondine doubled, singled and drove in a run in three at-bats. Sweeney had the only hits for Niceville.The Raiders are scheduled to play at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at Crestview against the host Bulldogs in the third game of the Bulldog Classic. The eight participating teams -- Choctawhatchee, Crestview, Fort Walton Beach, Milton, Navarre, Niceville, Pace and Shoals Christian Academy from Florence, Ala., will be seeded according to results from the tournament's first three days. The Classic's final games will be played Friday, with the championship game scheduled at 7 p.m. in Crestview.