CRESTVIEW — The future looks a little brighter for the Crestview High School baseball team.
Coming off back-to-back District 1-7A losses to Tate and Niceville the Bulldogs needed to stop the bleeding Thursday night against Fort Walton Beach.
Crestview got the much needed win 2-0 as Matt Gillis threw a three-hit shutout.
"I told the guys before the game that this is one of the biggest games in the middle of the season that you could ever imagine. We are talking about now that we are finishing district play for about a month.
"That puts in good shape as far as the district standings go. We've got three wins now and we hold the tie-breaker over Fort Walton if it comes to that point. It's a long way to go and obviously we've got a lot of things to work on and get better at."
Matt Gillis struck out eight Viking batters and allowed just two first-inning walks in picking up the complete game victory.
"I had everything working for me," Matt Gillis said. "I had a great defense behind me that supported me a hundred percent all the way and we just got it done."
Viking pitcher Nick Boswell was almost as good giving up just five hits.
Fort Walton Beach threatened in first inning as Gillis struggled to find his control as he gave up walks to Joe Guidry and David Montgomery. But when Gillis struck out Darren Hasch to end the inning it looked as if it might be a good night for the Bulldogs.
Crestview (7-5, 3-2) didn't exactly crush the ball, but the Bulldog hitters did, for the most part, put it in play.
The Bulldogs plated their first run in the third inning with a little help from the Vikings.
With one out Hunter Sullivan hit a high pop up in what must have seemed to be the Devil's Triangle between home plate, third base and the pitchers mound.
Guidry, the Viking catcher, Boswell and third baseman Casey Wehrhahn watched the ball go up into the lights. When it came down none of the three Vikings made a play on the ball as it dropped harmlessly to the ground and Sullivan picked up the infield hit.
Gillis was next and drove a pitch into left-center field for a base hit. Sullivan raced around to third. When the throw from the outfield got past Wehrhahn and went into the Crestview dugout Sullivan was awarded home.
Crestview's other Hunter, Hunter Willis, scored for the Bulldogs in the third inning.
Willis was hit by a pitch, stole second and scored on a Wehrhahn error.
Wehrhahn shook off the error and on a heads up play got Devin Wimmer in a rundown for the final out of the inning.
By that time Gillis was in a groove and the Vikings were unable to generate enough offense to threaten the Bulldogs.
"We just kind of hung in there," Tim Gillis said. "I thought Matt did a great job of hanging in there. He had some runners in scoring position a couple of times and he made some big pitches and got us out of some jams.
"We got of timely hits and made a couple plays that worked for us. We just hung in there and this group kind of does that and hopefully we can keep doing it.
The biggest Viking threat of the night came in the third inning when, with two out, Fort Walton Beach loaded the bases. Gillis got out the jam by getting Frazier Shoults to lift a lazy fly ball to centerfield that Pierce Cadenhead corralled for the out.
Crestview then scored what turned out to be the winning run in the bottom of the third and picked up the insurance run in the fourth to pull away with the win.
Randy Dickson is the Crestview News Bulletin’s sports editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet him @BigRandle, or call 682-6524.