Junior southpaw Donovan Cumbie limited Franklin County to six singles in leading Port St. Joe to a 5-1 upset on Tuesday night at Centennial Field.
The Seahawks had earlier defeated the Tiger Sharks 4-1 on March 22.
“We’ve seen the growth of our team, the past five or six games,” said Tiger Shark coach Ashley Summerlin. “We’ve seen this coming, but it all started with Donnie (Cumbie), and the way he pitched. He pitched a masterful game.”
Although striking out only five Seahawks, including three of the final four batters, Cumbie induced 14 popups or flyouts, seven of them to Shark sophomore right fielder Hunter Hicks.
“Unbelievable job,” said Summerlin. “He hasn’t been an outfielder. We moved him there this year, so he’s been learning (the position), and your right fielder is probably the hardest position to play because most (batters) are right-handed and the ball tails away. He continues to get better, and he saved us some runs tonight.”
Cumbie’s counterpart, sophomore Cody Abercrombie, struck out five of the first six Shark hitters, but allowed a run in the second inning on junior Jack Trochessett’s single and sophomore Max Godwin’s double down the left field line.
Wasting no time, the Seahawks tied the game in the third. Senior Garrison Cook struck out, but ran all the way to second base when the ball caromed into the backstop netting. After reaching third on a passed ball, he scored on Abercrombie’s sacrifice fly.
St. Joe went ahead for good in their next at-bat. Hicks led off with a free pass after being nicked by an Abercrombie pitch, and advanced to second on junior Jabara Pearson’s sacrifice bunt.
After senior Dakota Quinn singled Hicks to third, Cumbie hit a high hopper up the middle which senior second baseman Gage Boone gloved and attempted to touch the bag but the field umpire signaled everyone safe.
The Franklin County faithful erupted, Seahawk coach Kevin Cox argued the call, but Hicks had scored the go-ahead run in the process and the Sharks led 2-1.
In the fourth, juniors Chase Crum and Evan Stanley hit consecutive singles, but three fly ball outs ended the inning, including a running catch by Hicks on the third out.
St. Joe tacked on two more runs in the fourth after senior Caden Pruitt and sophomore Fisher Vandertulip crossed the plate on RBI by Godwin and Hicks.
A third run was nullified when Franklin County appealed that sophomore Jentzen Odom had failed to tag up from third base after a flyout to center and a throwing error.
“I know Jentzen stepped on the bag, but that’s the human element of the game,” said Summerlin.
After the Seahawks loaded the bases with two outs in the fifth, Cumbie ended the threat with a strikeout.
Trochessett scored the final run of the game in the fifth. After reaching second base on a fielding error and taking third on a wild pitch, he came home on Pruitt’s drive to right center to give St. Joe a 5-1 lead.
Franklin County presented its final threat in the sixth with two runners in scoring position, but Cumbie once again ended the inning with a strikeout.
Hicks made a spectacular catch for the first out of the Seahawk seventh, and Cumbie put an explanation point on the game by fanning the final two batters and the celebration began with the team mobbing their pitcher.
Crum led the Seahawks with two hits, with Stanley, Wyatt Abercrombie, Blekely Curry, and Cook having the other Franklin County hits.
In addition to his hit, Trochessett stole two bases and scored twice. Godwin had a double and two runs batted in, with Cumbie and Hicks also getting hits and driving in a run each. Hicks also scored once.
Pruitt had a hit, swiped a base, scored and drove in a run. Quinn also had a hit for the Sharks, and Vandertulip scored a run in addition to having a defensive gem in the third inning.
“Not our night,” said Cox. “We just hit too many fly balls tonight. We didn’t execute in key situations, and they did. All the credit goes to St. Joe, they earned it. Their pitcher pitched a complete game, and he threw strikes when he had to.”
“Odds are, we’ll see them again in the district tournament, the way things are shaping up,” said Cox,”
With the win, St. Joe improved to 5-9, and 2-2 in 1A District 4. Franklin County slipped to 12-4 overall, and 2-3 in the district.