Robby Miller’s unassisted double play in the bottom of the 13th inning Monday preserved a 4-3 Navarre High School win, ended Milton’s baseball season and sent the Raiders into the District 1-6A baseball semifinals. (PHOTO by Amy Frederick: Raiders celebrate 4-3 district win against Milton.)
Fifth-seeded Navarre scored twice in the top of the 13th inning. Devon Spurling walked, Kevin Jones and Chandler Moorer singled, and back-to-back Milton errors gave the Raiders (11-14) a 4-2 lead. The Panthers scored on a bases-loaded single in by Leon Griffith in the bottom of the inning before, with the bases still loaded, Miller caught C.J. Noble’s attempted squeeze bunt in the air and easily beat the Milton runner breaking for the plate back to third base for the final out.
“That is a marathon of a baseball game,” Navarre coach Bubba Meredith said in a report published after the game. “Good things happen and we just played baseball. That’s what I kept telling my guys, ‘Make plays. Make plays.’ They have a lot of good hitters over there, and luckily we came out on top.”
Jared Gonzalez started for Navarre and pitched eight innings – one more than a regulation complete game in high school – and Jeff Rutledge pitched four innings before Draven Grimes and Payne Walker shared the final frame.
Navarre played well in its final two regular-season games, a 7-4 loss at Pensacola Catholic, the nation’s top-ranked high school baseball team, and a 6-2 home win against the Crestview Bulldogs.
When Robby Miller walked and later scored on a single by Kevin Jones in the first inning against Catholic on April 15, it was only the second time all year and the first time on their home field that the Crusaders had trailed in a game.
Navarre pitcher Draven Grimes made his first start and pitched well, allowing just four hits through the first four innings. The Raiders chances to upset Catholic came apart in the bottom of the fifth inning when Catholic hitters rapped out six hits and scored five runs. They added a run in the sixth to make the final score 7-4.
Navarre 6, Crestview 2
Navarre hosted Crestview for the Raiders’ final regular-season game Tuesday, April 16. Prior to the contest, the senior "Diamond Girls" and ballplayers were recognized for their contributions to the Navarre baseball program.
Senior Payne Walker got the start for the Raiders and was matched against the Bulldogs' Roman Donofro, one of the top pitchers in the area. Walker gave up only five hits through six innings and held Crestview scoreless until the sixth.
Robby Miller walked to lead off the fourth inning and moved to second on Kevin Jones' sacrifice bunt. Navarre took a 1-0 lead when Miller scored on Matt Marshall's base hit. The Raiders added to their lead in the fifth. Kyle Rogers was hit by a pitch to start the inning and scored on an error on a ball hit by Spurling. Another Bulldog error allowed Jones to reach safely and Spurling to score. Andrew Berteau then walked. Marshall stepped to the plate and came through again by driving in Jones and Berteau to make the score 5-0.
Crestview scored twice in the top of the sixth on two hits and a walk. Navarre got one of those runs back in the bottom of the frame to make the score 6-2.
Jordan Kotowske replaced Walker on the mound in the seventh. After issuing a lead-off walk, Kotowske started a nice 1-6-3 (pitcher-to-shortstop-to-first baseman) double play. Another ground out completed the three-up, three-down inning and the game and gave the Raiders a 6-2 Senior Night victory.