Beckett White dropped a two-out, seventh-inning dying flair in front of Vancleave rightfielder Gavin Martin to score Ethan Saucier and lift Gulfport to a 3-2 road win over the Bulldogs Tuesday night.
“They are a really good team,” said Gulfport coach Jamie McMahon of Vancleave. “They are well coached and a scrappy bunch of players. This was a really good win for us.”
“It was a pitching battle,” said Vancleave coach Daniel Threadgill. “It was a hard-fought game. I thought it was a clean game. There were few errors. It was a well-pitched baseball game by (Bailee Hendon, Max Barnes, and Dylan Ladner).”
The hit, only the fourth on the night for the Admirals, allowed Gulfport (3-0) to escape with the win in a pitching duel between Vancleave’s Hendon and the Admirals' combination of Barnes and Ladner.
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Despite giving up an unearned run in the third inning, Barnes took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before tiring and giving way to Ladner.
Gavin McKerchie started the Bulldogs' sixth with a pop-flair single behind first base. Hendon ripped a double into the left-center ally to put runners on second and third. Barnes, however, came back with a strikeout before putting Justin Stokes on with an intentional walk to load the bases with one out. The Admirals strategy backfired, though, when Barnes hit Evan Keith to force in the tying run, knotting the score at 2-2.
“I felt (Barnes) got a little tired in the sixth inning,” McMahon said. “But if he can pitch like that way every time he goes out, we will take it.”
Ladner, however, took the mound for the Admirals, preventing additional damage, striking out the first batter he saw and ending the inning with a fly ball to right. He notched his first career varsity win by pitching a scoreless seventh, giving up only a one-out single to Vancleave leadoff hitter Trevor Davis.
“That was huge,” McMahon said of Ladner taking the mound in the sixth with the bases loaded and stopping the Bulldogs from scoring additional runs. “He got the first one on a punch out. He came in a did what he had to do.”
Threadgill agreed that Vancleave’s inability to push additional runs across the plate, particularly with the bases loaded and only one out, was the key to the game.
“We had our opportunities with the bases loaded,” he said. “In this type of game, you have to take advantage of your opportunities, particularly against a team like Gulfport.”
Gulfport took the early lead when Blake Johnson ripped a leadoff second-inning double down the right field line. Saucier followed with a blast over the left-center fence for his first varsity home run. The Admirals didn't get another hit until Jacob Roberts singled in the seventh inning.
Hendon took the tough complete-game loss for Vancleave (2-1). He gave up just four hits, walked two, hit one batter, and struck out 13.
“He pitched really well tonight,” McMahon said of Hendon, who kept the Admirals off-step for most of the night. “Both teams got quality starts from their pitchers.”
“(Hendon) did a great job tonight,” Threadgill. “I thought he made only one bad pitch on the night, the home run (to Saucier). He missed with that pitch and he made us pay. But he fought hard all night.”
Barnes pitched 5 1/3 innings for Gulfport, but did not factor into the decision. He gave up two hits, three walks, one intentional, and hit a batter. He struck out four batters. Hendon struck out two and gave up one hit in 1 2/3 innings of relief.
“(Barnes) did a very good job of staying away from us with the curve ball and changeup when he got two strikes on us,” Threadgill said. “I thought we did a good job hitting against him early in the count.”