Blue Devils defeated in games with county foes
Escambia County High School came away with a pair of losses to in-county rivals during baseball action Friday at home.
The varsity dropped a 5-3 decision to T.R. Miller while the junior varsity squad lost a 2-1 heartbreaker to W.S. Neal.
In the varsity game, Miller jumped out to a 4-0 lead, plating a run in the first frame and adding three in the top of the second before the Blue Devils scored twice in the bottom of the frame.
ECHS cut the deficit to 4-3 with a run in the bottom of the first, only to see Miller score an insurance run in the top of the seventh.
"We played a pretty good game tonight," said ECHS head baseball coach Keith Nall. "We hit the ball very well. I think we had about 10 or 11 hits.
"Even though we lost, I was glad to see our bats come around. We worked hard on our swings the last couple of days at practice, and it showed. Several players who have struggled in the first few games stepped up and got some hits, which was pleasing."
Franklin Boykin went 2-of-3 at the plate and scored twice while Chase McGhee went 2-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Miles Smith also went 2-for-3 with a double and a pair of RBI while Michael Brooks also drove in a run.
McGhee took the loss on the mound after coming on in relief. He gave up four hits, four runs (three earned) while walking four and striking out three in two innings of work. Anthony Patrick worked five innings, giving up six hits and one run while walking no one and striking out three.
"Defensively, we played a good game, too," Nall said. "We did not commit any errors. Chad did not have a good first outing. He has been bothered by a muscle strain in his throwing arm. Tonight was his first competitive action in about two or three weeks. It showed tonight because he is a guy that usually has very good control, but he just couldn't find it tonight.
"But I'm not worried about Chase. He's coming around. I was just glad that his arm didn't bother him."
Despite the loss, Nall said he was pleased with his team's improvement.
"We never like to lose, but I can take it a lot better when we show improvement in areas that we have struggled," he said. "Our guys have worked hard the last couple of days and we can't wait to get back to practice so we can get even better."
All the offense in the JV contest happened in the first frame, as Neal scored twice in the top of the inning and ECHS plated a run in the bottom of the frame to make it 2-1 in favor of the visiting team.
Farrel Staples doubled and scored a run while Darius English drove him in and Anthony Matthews stole a base after reaching safely. On the mound, Skylar Rolin worked two innings, giving up three hits, both runs, a walk and striking out two. Chris Graham pitched three innings of no-hit ball, striking out four in the process.
"The JV played a real good game," Nall said. "They played their best defensive game of the year. Offensively, we put the ball in play, but Neal made the plays they had to make.
"Skylar and Chris both threw the ball well tonight. Neal just got a couple of hits in the first inning and scored twice. Both pitchers then kept them off balance the rest of the night and didn't allow any more runs.
"We just need to put together a few more hits and the JV will win a lot more ballgames."
The varsity squad opens area play Friday at home against Wilcox-Central. That contest is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. After that, ECHS travels to T.R. Miller Saturday for a 12 p.m. contest.
The JV squad travels to Monroe County to face both Monroe County and Excel in games scheduled to start at 10 a.m.