CRESTVIEW — Tuesday’s District 1-7A baseball game between Navarre and Crestview turned into a baseball marathon that went 18 innings and lasted four hours and 15 minutes.
The game was a classic long before Colter Hancock singled with two out in the bottom of the 18th inning to score Matt Gillis from second base to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 win.
The players will talk about the game at team reunions and tell their grandchildren about the night they played the equivalent of a Major League doubleheader.
However, only one player will be able to say he drove in the winning run.
“I got a hanging curve ball and I sat back on it and drove it,” Hancock, a sophomore said. “It was an 18-inning game that was taking forever.
“I wasn’t about to play 18 innings and lose. I had to do something about it.”
The game was a first of the kind for Bulldog Coach Tim Gillis who has been around high school, college and professional baseball for the better part of 30 years.
“It’s hard to explain,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. Even in all my years of pro ball and college ball, I’ve never seen anything like that.
“We both had opportunities that we squandered. I thought there were some clutch pitching efforts and some clutch defensive plays that kept the game going on both sides. It’s a shame somebody had to lose this game because I would have been sick if we had lost.”
The game started with great pitching by both a pair of lefties; Matt Cronin of the Raiders and Matt Gillis of the Bulldogs (11-10. 4-2) started the game and worked nine innings.
Cronin gave up four hits and struck out 10 Bulldogs. Gillis gave up five hits and struck out nine Raiders.
Jared Gonzalez worked the last nine innings for Navarre and was almost as impressive as Cronin in taking the hard luck loss. Gonzalez struck out 10 and gave up eight hits.
The hits by Gillis and Hancock in the 18th proved to be the difference.
Hunter Willis, Hancock and Justin Abdo teamed up in relieve of Gillis. Abdo worked the last two innings walking one Raider and striking out the side in the top of the 18th to get the win.
All totaled the pitchers combined to throw between 450 and 500 pitches.
Even though the score was 1-0 there was enough action to fill a couple of pages in the scorebook.
Twice, in the fifth and seventh innings, Navarre Coach Bubba Meredith called for a squeeze play. And both times the Raiders missed the bunt and the Bulldogs recorded the out.
Kevin Jones led off the Raider 12th with a double off Willis and took third on a wild pitch. With designated hitter Drew Howard at bat the Bulldogs pulled the infield in. Howard grounded to Hancock at first, who threw Jones out as he tried to score.
Crestview had a chance to win it in the 16th, but Navarre center fielder Mike Carter threw out the Bulldog runner at home.
Bulldog shortstop Corey Armstrong turned in a couple of fielding gems in the 17th that kept the Raiders off base. Crestview catcher Austin Armstrong threw out three Navarre runners attempting to steal.
Crestview overcame five errors to get the shutout. The Raiders made three errors that didn’t impact the scoring.
Carter led the Raiders with two hits.
Abdo and Hancock each had three hits for Crestview. Gillis, Austin Armstrong and Corey Armstrong each had two hits.
The win meant much more than coming out on top of one of the longest games, if not the longest game, in Crestview baseball history.
The win assured the Bulldogs of no worse than the three seed in the district tournament.
“It keeps you out of the four-five seed (game at the district tournament),” Tim Gillis said. “It keeps you from having to play that extra game and to come out on the winning end of this was big.
“I was proud of our guys for hanging in there. There were a lot of things we could have done better, but I’ll take the win any time.”
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at email@example.com, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.