Chiefs own Border War

Published 8:34 pm Wednesday, March 7, 2007

By By Matthew Nascone
Trent Freeman had his hand in every facet of the first battle in the 2007 baseball Border War. The Northview Chiefs took down the Escambia County Blue Devils, 11-3 in Atmore, but Freeman stole the show.
He allowed three runs on two hits on the mound for the win over the Blue Devils. He registered five strikeouts and five walks. And he dished out a devastating blow with the score tied at 3-3 in the third inning.
Freeman broke the tie by blasting a two-run home run over the left-center field fence, scoring Jeff Price. The bomb was essentially the winning hit and Freeman did what every pitcher wishes he could do, help himself at the plate. The blast was his first career high school home run. He finished the day 1-for-3 with one home run and two RBIs and two runs scored.
"Trent had the first-inning jitters there in the beginning, but he settled down and threw a great game for us," NHS head coach Sid Wheatley said. "I was proud of how he pitched after that first inning. And he had a big home run for us. He has improved so much over the summer and I am proud of how he played."
Freeman walked in the first two runs for Atmore in the first inning after Sean Little scored for NHS in the top of the first to give the Blue Devils a 2-1 advantage. A fielder's choice brought in the third run for ECHS, but that was it for the Devils.
The Chiefs (5-2) tied the game in the top of the second inning as Jesse Hayes and Austin Reid each scored one run.
Reid finished the game 1-for-3 with two runs scored and Hayes was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored.
Freeman's blast broke the tie in the top of the third inning and the Chiefs scored one run in the fourth inning. Little roped a double in the fifth inning, scoring two runners and increasing the NHS lead to 9-3.
"We went into this game with the mindset of hitting the baseball early and these guys did what I asked them to do," Wheatley said.
The Chiefs added two runs in the seventh inning and Hayes closed out the game with a 1-2-3 inning on the mound.
Little was 3-for-5 at the plate in the leadoff spot for the Chiefs with one run scored and two RBIs. Brandon Walker went 2-for-4 with two stolen bases. Scooter Hamilton was 3-for-4 with one run scored and Price was 1-for-4 with one run scored.
ECHS head coach Keith Nall said the reason for the loss was simple.
"We just are not hitting the ball well right now," ECHS head coach Keith Nall said. "And against good teams like that, you have to hit the ball. But we will keep working hard."
Cody Vickrey took the loss on the mound for the Blue Devils (1-6), going three innings and allowing five runs, four earned, on six hits with one strikeout and one walk. Jonathan McNeil pitched the final four innings and allowed six runs, two earned, on seven hits with five strikeouts and one walk.
Vickrey and Blake Walker each had one hit for the Blue Devils and Anthony Matthews, Justin Rolin and McNeil each had one run scored.
Chiefs 3 South Walton 2
Ryan Chason played it safe March 2 and won the game for the Chiefs. Chason laid down a safety squeeze bunt in the eighth inning of NHS's game against South Walton, bringing home Trent Freeman for the winning run at 3-2.
"We had the opportunity to win the game in the seventh, but we didn't capitalize," Wheatley said. "But Trent got a single and Jesse Hayes came up with a big double. Tyler Tucci was then intentionally walked and Chason laid down the safety squeeze and we won the game in the eighth inning. It was a great way to win."
The safety squeeze is different from the squeeze because the batter and the runner make sure it is a good pitch to bunt before bunting the ball. In the regular squeeze, the bunt and theft of home are on no matter what and the batter has to bunt whatever is thrown. The safety squeeze allows for more leniency to find a good pitch to bunt.
But Wheatley said that game showed the character of his guys.
"That was the fourth win in which we trailed at some point in the game and came back to win," Wheatley said.
The Chiefs were down 2-0 until the sixth inning when they tied the ball game with two runs.
Brandon Walker was 3-for-4 in the game with one run scored. Jeff Price also scored one run and had a stolen base, but he made the biggest impact on the mound as he pitched eight innings for the win and struck out 16 batters.
The second battle of the Border War will take place April 9 in Bratt, Fla. The Chiefs hosted Mobile Christian Tuesday and the results will be in an upcoming Advance. The next game for the Chiefs is tomorrow against Pensacola Catholic Academy, beginning at 4 p.m. The Blue Devils next game is Friday in their area opener against Jackson in Atmore.

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