Port St. Joe Jr./Sr. High School baseball Coach Ashley Summerlin said Liberty County was a good ball club with as good a high school pitching staff as he’s seen.
The Tiger Sharks (17-9) faced the top three arms on that staff Tuesday but collected the most hits of the season en route to a 13-5 victory at Bozeman High School.
“It was a good game,” Summerlin said. “We did a good job of keeping the ball in play.
“We still strike out too much but we found a way to keep things going.”
The win in the District 4-1A semifinals advanced Port St. Joe to the title game 8 p.m. ET tonight at Bozeman, a 5-0 winner over Franklin County Tuesday.
“That should be a good game,” Summerlin said. “I think we are pretty even teams. We do certain things well, they do certain things well.”
More importantly, the victory over Liberty County ensures Port St. Joe will continue playing beyond tonight.
The Tiger Sharks earned a berth in the Region 1-1A playoffs; a victory over Bozeman tonight would mean Port St. Joe would host its opening playoff game.
“The whole goal when we started this tournament was don’t let today be the last day you practice on this field,” Summerlin said. “Success is just a bunch of small wins.
“Each day provides an opportunity.”
John Austin Gee got the start against Liberty County and went the distance, scattering 11 hits while walking four and striking out six.
“He pitched a lot of damage control,” Summerlin said. “I thought he pitched a great game. He has struggled a little this year, but he’s grinded and worked.
“It just happened today he got the opportunity to start and he made the most of it.”
Gee also had a key two-strike hit which jump-started a second inning during which Port St. Joe overcame a 2-0 deficit with seven runs.
Port St. Joe added another run in the fifth inning and Liberty County, behind a bases-clearing triple, pulled within 8-5 in the top of the sixth.
But in the bottom of the fifth the Tiger Sharks scored five runs and sealed the deal.
Kelvin Griffin, Josh Butts, Caden Turrell, Gee, Cameron Harmon and Jacob Hopper each had two hits as Port St. Joe pounded out a season-high 14 hits.
Jaden Grantland tripled and singled, Caleb Butts singled and the Tiger Sharks stole four bases to bring their season total to 65.