Baseball gets two wins in home debut
Northwest Florida Daily News
Northwest Florida State gets win in first home game
By TRAVIS DOWNEY Northwest Florida Daily News 315-4476 | email@example.com
NICEVILLE — From his vantage point in the Northwest Florida State College dugout, the fifth inning was one of the more enjoyable experiences of this young season for Raiders baseball coach Doug Martin.
After Jackson State had cut the Raiders 2-0 lead in half in the top half of the inning, NWF State pieced together quality at bat after quality at bat in the home half of the frame. Catcher Blake Bearden led off with a stand-up double before leadoff hitter Franco Broyles laid down a bunt just inside the third base line that could not have been placed better by hand.
Back-to-back singles by Jorge Chavarria and Trae Santos helped it all pay off as the Raiders erupted for a threerun inning as NWF State won its home opener 5-1 on Friday.
"That was big in the fifth to answer their one run and come back with three," Martin said. "I thought that was the difference in the game."
"We really worked all week on having better approaches at the plate," Broyles said. "During that inning we put together six or seven quality atbats and had a lot of execution. That was big."
That pivotal fifth, which also featured a RBI double to right off the bat of Patrick McGavin, backed a strong start by pitcher Conner Kendrick. Kendrick, a sophomore out of Sharpsburg, Ga., didn't allow a run, scattered six hits and struck out six in four innings of work despite struggling, at times, to get ahead in the count early.
"He can overcome it because he's got good stuff," Martin said.
He also had some defensive help. With two on and two out in the fourth, Raiders second baseman Mugsy Howard made a leaping snag to rob Martin Key of a sure RBI single.
"There's not many times there's a 6-4 second baseman," Martin cracked. 'We certainly had the right guy in at the right time didn't we? Our other guy is 5-9."
"You can't do it without the defense," Kendrick said. "They played incredible today, I can't complain at all."
Former Niceville standout Kyle McDorman retired two of the three batters he faced before Martin went back to the bullpen, citing what he thought to be fatigue with the former Eagle.
Third-ranked NWF State (4-2) took a 2-0 lead in the first when a lead-off walk came back to bite Generals starter Alex Shoulders two batters later. Dylan Boston drove in Broyles with a single before scoring himself on a throwing error.
Outgoing athletic director Mickey Englett, who will retire April 30, threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
In their second game of the day, the Raiders defeated visiting East Georgia 5-0.
McGavin connected on a solo shot in the bottom of the third to give NWF State the early lead that it would only build on. NWF State added three runs in the bottom of the fifth and Nick Masonia hit a two-out RBI single.
Santos punctuated the Raiders' scoring by hitting a solo home run in the sixth. Broyles finished with a hit and crossed the plate twice and Will Solomon threw four innings to get the win for the Raiders.
NWF State will continue play in the Carl McInnis Classic with a pair of games Saturday. The Raiders play Jackson State at 11 a.m. before closing the classic against East Georgia at 5 p.m.