Seahawk sophomore Colby Blackburn’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth brought home the winning run. [ David Adlerstein | The Times ]

Seahawks edge Tiger Sharks in extra innings

It doesn’t get much better than last week’s first varsity baseball matchup this season between Franklin County and Port St. Joe.

Twelve strikeouts in just under seven innings by the Seahawk starter, clutch hitting that saw the Tiger Sharks come back from a four-run deficit, and a walk-off win in the bottom of the eighth inning thanks to a perfectly executed sacrifice fly to right field by sophomore Colby Blackburn that sent senior Cody Abercrombie with the running run.

“It was a great game between two rival schools; I wouldn’t have it any other way,” said Seahawk coach Brock Johnson, surrounded by an exuberant squad that had just secured the 5-4 win.

“You don’t play this game to win against teams inferior to you,” said Johnson. “This is the type of moment, even though it’s regular season, that you try to teach these kids what you play this game for.”

“We could have folded when they come back and tied it up, but we didn’t,” he said. “We’re going to play them again, it’s a long season and I’m really proud of the way we finished tonight.”

After Abercrombie struck out all three batters in the top of the first, the Seahawks put together a rally that earned them three runs in the bottom of the inning.

Freshman Sadiq Jones walked and senior Wil Luberto was hit by a pitch thrown by St. Joe starter senior Fisher Vandertulip.

Abercrombie then sliced a double to center field, scoring Jones, followed by a bunt from senior Logan Bentley that brought home Luberto. A grounder to second off the bat of senior Terry Proctor brought Abercrombie home.

Abercombie gave up a triple to senior Eli Harris in the top of the second, but three strikeouts by the Seahawk starter meant he would not cross home plate.

Freshman Chason Martina beat out a throw to first to get the bottom of the second started, followed by a Jones’ single to right field and then a passed ball that would tack on a fourth run for the Seahawks.

Tiger Sharks coach Ashley Summerlin decided to pull Vandertulip in the second, and make way for long relief work by senior Jentzen Odom.

“Fisher is a kid we rely on, he’s closed for us and finished games for us but this was his first start of the year,” said the coach, noting that he had only recently been cleared by doctors after having surgery in the off season.

“He had worked his pitch count up, he pitched 39 pitches and had no outs in the second,” said Summerlin. “I didn’t feel like he had his best stuff, and we ended up doing a good change.”

In the top of the fourth, Tiger Shark junior Peyton Knox laced a line drive down the right field line to score Harris, who had stole second after beating out a throw to first. But Seahawks catcher senior Chase Millender picked the next Tiger Shark trying to snatch second, and Port St. Joe was held to a single run.

In the top of the fifth, junior Max Godwin lofted the ball over the right field fence for a two-run shot that also scored senior Owen Grantland, and just like that it was a one-run game.

In the top of the seventh, the Tiger Sharks refused to say die, and thanks to Vandertulip’s two-out line drive that scored Odom, the game was knotted at 4-all.

With Abercrombie at his pitch count, Johnson sent in senior Logan Bentley to get the job done, which he did with no further damage. He gave up a single in the eighth, but a ground out, a pop fly and a strikeout ended the threat.

“Logan is going to have to be a big part of us going forward,” said Johnson. “He hasn’t been asked to pitch what he’s going to pitch this year. Cody is obviously our horse but we have a good team, a good makeup.”

In the bottom of the eighth, Abercrombie singled to right, Proctor advanced him to third, and it was Blackburn’s turn.

“That kid is just a sophomore,” said Johnson. “They were going to pull the infield in and we were expecting a squeeze and I just told him your job here is to get something in the outfield.

“If they don’t intentionally walk you, I kind of thought they would have to make a force at all bags, it has to be in the outfield, nothing in the infield,” said the coach.

And that’s what Blackburn did.

“With two freshmen in the outfield and a freshman on third base, we have a young team. “I’m very excited about the growth we’re about to do,” said Johnson.

“We had our chances to win the game and didn’t get it done,” said Summerlin. “We dug ourselves a hole early and we were able to scratch our way back in but they out-executed us.”

“It was a good game,” he said. “It’s still early in the year we’re trying to find our solid footing. Everytime we go over there it’s a fight.”

The game was not without fighting words between the two archrivals. 

“With any rivalry game the players are going to jaw back and forth, they’re going to chirp,” said Johnson. “We was doing the talking, theirs was doing the talking. It’s something you don’t like to see.

“I’m not going to kill the kids’ intensity, but you try to rein certain things in. It can make it look ugly when it’s really not,” said the Seahawk coach.

Abercrombie finished the game with 12 strikeouts, two walks and four earned runs on eight hits. Odom struck out four and gave up one earned run on two hits, in six-and-two-thirds innings.

Godwin went 2 for 4, with a triple and a home for St. Joe, with Knox also going 2 for 4.

Abercrombie helped his cause by going 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles.

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Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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