It was a busy and mostly productive week for Port St. Joe baseball, winning two of three home contests to extend their record to 11-4.
On Tuesday, March 28, the Tiger Sharks prevailed in a pitchers’ duel against (9-5) Franklin County, defeating the Seahawks 4-1.
Holding a 2-1 advantage, St. Joe scored two more in the sixth to give starting pitcher Fisher Vandertulip a little more of a cushion going into the Seahawk final at bat.
Vandertulip finished with a complete game two-hitter, throwing a total of 86 pitches, with 61 of them being strikes.
“He commanded the strike zone,” said Shark coach Ashley Summerlin. “They (Franklin County) had 48 swings, and 22 of them were misses.” Walking only one, Vandertulip struck out 11.
Seahawk pitcher Dane Mallon allowed only four St. Joe hits, but two of them were for extra bases: a Jabara Pearson double and a Vandertulip triple.
Baylor Partie and Wills Norton got the other two Shark hits. Eli Harris scored two Shark runs, with Vandertulip and Max Godwin also scoring for St. Joe.
“We’re still not where we want to be,” Summerlin said after the win. But, “we have cut down on our strikeouts the last few games.”
“We were able to do enough to put pressure on the Franklin County pitchers,” he said.
Milan 6, PSJ 1
On Thursday, March 30, the baseball team from Milan High School in Milan, Tennessee, paid a visit to Port St. Joe. Milan is about 100 miles northeast of Memphis.
Sporting two players listed as 6’6”, one at 6’2”, and another at a mere 6’1”, it would have been easy to mistake them for a basketball team.
But play baseball they could, as they defeated St. Joe 6-1 on Thursday, and then took a 3-2 win from Freeport on Friday at Centennial Field.
“Milan couldn’t do anything wrong,” Summerlin said. Bulldog pitchers held St. Joe to only four hits for the game, which saw Milan (9-2) take a 3-0 lead in their first at bat, two more in the third, and another run in the sixth.
Baylor Partie had two of the Shark hits, with Jentzen Odom and Wills Norton getting the other two. Partie also drove in Hunter Hicks with the lone St. Joe run in the fourth inning.
Not making excuses for the loss, Summerlin did note that “We’ve had some pretty intense games the last few weeks, including a walk-off win against Bozeman. It’s hard to keep getting up for big games.”
PSJ 12, Freeport 11
The next night, Summerlin’s nine found themselves at the wrong end of an 11-3 score in the bottom of the seventh inning against Freeport, the same team St. Joe had crushed 19-0 in three innings on March 10.
They ended up scoring nine times to steal a dramatic 12-11 come-from-behind win over the Bulldogs.
Freeport (5-7) scored single runs in the first two innings and added three more in the third before the Tiger Sharks scored once in the fourth and fifth innings, narrowing the deficit to 5-2 before the Bulldogs added six more runs in the sixth.
Down by eight runs with only three outs remaining, Summerlin told his players that “The last time we played them, we scored seven runs in the first inning,” and 12 more in the third.
In what Summerlin referred to as “a walkfest,” St. Joe batters began filling the bases. Jentzen Odom lifted a sacrifice fly to start the scoring, and as “we kept scoring, we put doubt in their minds.”
The Tiger Sharks scored their final seven runs with two outs, and Bulldog pitchers kept issuing free passes, hitting batters, and allowing the occasional hit before Jabara Pearson tied the game and Odom scored the winning run.
Pearson hit two doubles, scored three times, stole a base and drove in a run. Baylor Partie had two hits, three stolen bases, and scored a run.
Max Godwin, who pitched the final 1.2 innings and earned the win, hit safely twice, stole a base, scored, and drove in a run.
Wills Norton also got two hits, stole a base, scored and drove in a run. Eli Harris hit a single, a triple, and a sacrifice fly for one of his two runs batted in. He also scored a run.
Odom and Corban Butts also had hits and scored once each. Odom drove in three runs and Butts drove in one.
Fisher Vandertulip, CJ Conway, and Jack Trochessett also scored runs for St. Joe.
“Last year, we were the team that got walked off,” said summerlin after the game. “This year, we’ve had walk-off wins.”
After traveling to Walton to take on the 5-7 Braves on Monday, April 3, the Tiger Sharks will welcome the 7-12 Red Devils from Jackson, Georgia on Thursday, April 6.