It wasn’t easy, but the South Walton Seahawks pulled off a 5-2 victory over the visiting North Bay Haven Buccaneers in varsity baseball action Tuesday night in Santa Rosa Beach.
"Tonight we struggled just getting our confidence and rhythm," said South Walton Coach Nick Borthwick.
Nevertheless, he said, "It's early in the season and we still haven't got the bats going, but I was proud that we battled through a tough game where we had some mistakes mentally."
The Seahawks didn't connect for many hits, finishing with only four on the night.
Junior Seahawk Tyler Slotter led the effort with two hits and two RBIs.
After South Walton gave up an unearned run in the top of the first, they battled back to take the lead in the bottom half.
With a full count, Slotter singled to right and advanced around to third when the Buc's pitcher tried to pick him off at first. Austin Garafalo reached on an error and stole second. Both Slotter and Garafalo slipped into home on a passed ball for a 2-1 advantage.
In the second inning, South Walton picked up one more run. Jack Flynn hit a sky high shot in the infield that fell to the ground for a base hit. Flynn advanced to third on errors and then scored on a double to right center by Slotter. South Walton led 3-1 at the end of two innings.
The Bucs got a run back on a walk and a single to left by Heath Dickson.
South Walton didn't score again until the fourth inning. Noah Neville took one deep to left field and advanced to second on a bunt sacrifice by Tuck Stafford. Flynn walked and then Slotter put down a bunt sacrifice to score Neville for a 4-2 lead.
In the top of the fifth, Garafalo pulled off a double play with a high leap for the catch and then catching the runner off first for a scoreless inning for the Bucs.
South Walton got a couple of runners on base but left them stranded with a strikeout and a fly ball for an out.
However, in the bottom of the sixth, the Seahawks managed to pick up one last run. With one out, Slotter reached on an error and the next batter popped up to the second baseman for an out. Up next, Sage Roberts smacked a single to left field to score Slotter for a 5-2 lead.
Garafalo, a freshman, stepped on the mound and finished off the Bucs in the top of the seventh with a ground out and fly ball for an out and a strike out.
"It's good to see some young pitchers come in and throw some strikes when we needed it," Borthwick said.
The Seahawks used three pitchers in the win. Jeremy Pfeiffer, a junior, started and faced 13 batters, gave up one hit, four walks, two unearned runs and struck out three. Stafford, a junior as well, faced 14 batters, gave up two hits, two walks, struck out four and hit one batter. Garafalo finished up, pitching to only three batters.
Up next for the 3-0 Seahawks is a 4 p.m. Thursday at home against West Gadsden.