CRESTVIEW -- The defending Class 5A state-champion Pace Patriots beat Navarre 9-0 Friday in the Northwest Florida Bulldog Classic championship game to improve to 14-2 in 2011.
Senior Trent Higgenbothem went the distance for Pace. He allowed five hits, walked a batter, hit one and struck out five in seven innings pitched to hold Navarre scoreless for just the second time in 19 games.
Navarre's record dropped to 9-10. The loss was the Raiders' second to their District 1-5A rival this season but won't count in the district standings. The Patriots scored twice in the top of the seventh inning of a 4-2 win at Navarre in March. The teams will play their second regular-season district contest April 15 at Pace and could meet in the district tournament.
Four Raiders pitchers allowed the Patriots just six hits but combined to walk eight batters, hit one and throw three wild pitches. Two Navarre errors and a passed ball also helped Pace's attack.
Jarrett Zimmerly, Navarre's fourth pitcher, helped the Raiders avoid being run-ruled for the first time this season. In high school baseball, if a team is ahead by 10 or more runs at the end of the fifth or subsequent innings, the game is over. Zimmerly relieved Brandon Passalacqua with no outs, a runner at second and the Patriots leading 8-0 in the bottom of the sixth inning. Zimmerly got Higgenbothem, Pace's cleanup hitter, to hit a grounder to shortstop Jared Gonzalez, who flipped the ball to second baseman Jason Frederick to force out Addison Russell. Zach Potter advanced to third on the play. Daniel Hampton's single scored Potter and Clay Benefield walked to reload the bases.
Zimmerly struck out pinch-hitter Rusty Way for the second out and, with the potential game-ending run at third, got Brandon Tyler to dribble a grounder to the third-base side of the pitcher's mound. Zimmerly fielded the ball and threw to catcher Dusty Jones for the force out and preserving Navarre's final turn at bat.
Not that it did much good. Gavin Wehby managed a two-out single before Jones grounded out to third for the game's last out. Navarre had runners at second base in the first, third, fourth and sixth innings but couldn't get any further against Higgenbothem.
Justin Jordan led Navarre with two hits in three at-at bats. Shawn Madl, a junior, made his first varsity start and took the loss for Navarre. Cory Catyb also pitched for the Raiders.