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Win and a prayer

Updated Apr 26, 2017 at 10:06 PM

 

By PAT McCANN
News Herald Executive Sports Editor

 

PANAMA CITY — A junior college baseball team that had been living on the edge the past two weeks never fell off the wire as much as it had the net pulled out from underneath it.

 

Gulf Coast dispatched Pensacola 3-2 on Wednesday evening at Bill Frazier Field. The problem was that Tallahassee, playing an hour earlier in the Eastern time zone, already had clinched a berth in Thursday’s play-in game vs. Daytona State by downing Northwest Florida State 11-5 to earn third place in the Panhandle Conference.

 

The teams will meet at 4 p.m. in Palatka at St. John’s River in a winner-take-all format. At stake is a berth in the state tournament.

 

Gulf Coast finished its season 33-16, 11-13 in the Panhandle Conference. Tallahassee is 27-23, but by overcoming second-place Northwest Florida the Eagles improved to 12-12 in the record that mattered. Daytona State is 21-20 and Pensacola finished 14-35, 3-21.

 

Gulf Coast entered the week with the difficult task of having to defeat Pensacola twice while hoping Tallahassee lost twice to Northwest. The Commodores were halfway to their goal after Monday and held serve on their field, but the Eagles produced the needed victory in their second chance against the Raiders.

 

Northwest Florida took a 3-1 lead in the second inning of its game on the Eagles’ field, but TCC was in front 8-3 by the bottom of the fourth. The Commodores’ dugout was well aware of what was happening 120 miles away. The closest NWFS came was 8-5 before Tallahassee pulled away.

 

Not that Gulf Coast was romping past Pensacola. The Commodores scored two runs against Alex Tyson in the bottom of the first inning, then needed Alec Aleywine’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the eighth inning to inch ahead.

Gulf Coast starter Alec Wisely yielded two runs in the top of the second inning, but otherwise gave up just four hits in seven innings while striking out five without a walk.

 

Trever Kilcrease pitched a scoreless eighth for Gulf Coast, but after the Commodores broke through against Pirates’ reliever Forrester Smith, yielded singles to Willie Carter and Peyton Lacoste to open Pensacola’s ninth.

 

Greg Loukinen came on. He struck out Wifredo Alvarez, then walked Malique Foreman to load the bases. With a 3-2

count to Bucky McGlamry, Loukinen coerced a ground ball that shortstop Jordan Tylski and second baseman Jackson Webb turned into a 6-4-3 double play.

 

It produced a sudden end to a season that came up one win short of a chance to continue.

 

“At times we were really good and at times we weren’t,” Gulf Coast coach Mike Kandler said. “It certainly wasn’t from lack of effort. We just didn’t win enough.”

 

The season also was a struggle for Kandler, who was diagnosed with cancer midway through the conference schedule and missed Monday’s game at Pensacola while having a port put in to facilitate upcoming chemotherapy.

 

Pensacola;020 000 000 — 2 6 2

Gulf Coast;200 000 02x — 3 7 1

 

Tyson, Smith (L) 8 and Sorrenti; Wisely, Kilcrease (W) 8, Loukinen 9 and Nowak.

LOB: Pensacola 4, Gulf Coast 4. E: Alvarez, Lacoste, Kilcrease. DP: Pensacola 1-6-3, Gulf Coast 5-4-3, 6-4-3. S: Duncan, Webb. SF: McGlamry. CS: by Sorrenti (Webb, Ranie). 2B: Lacoste, Foreman, Webb. RBIs: Foreman, McGlamry, Wisely, Aleywine. WP: Tyson, Wisely, Loukinen. HBP: by Wisely (Sorrenti). Bk: Smith, Kilcrease.

 

 

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