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Gulf Coast edges Shelton State

Updated Feb 16, 2017 at 10:21 PM

By Pat McCann / The News Herald

 

PANAMA CITY — When you’re a junior college baseball team with an 8-2 record and a team batting average of .234 you’ve got to know that you’re doing some other things right besides hitting.

 

Or as Gulf Coast coach Mike Kandler said Thursday, “sometimes it’s not a matter of how many as it is when.”

Consider Josh Nowak’s run-scoring double that brought in Jordan Tylski in the sixth inning to tie the game and Alec Wisely’s sacrifice fly that scored Jacquez Koonce the “when” in the Commodores 3-2 win over Shelton State at Bill Frazier Field.

 

The Commodores have had a much busier month than the Buccaneers while improving to 9-2, but it should be noted the Bucs opened their season by taking two games out of three against Panhandle Conference school Tallahassee and now are 2-2.

The teams meet Friday for a doubleheader at Frazier Field beginning at 1 p.m.

 

Where Gulf Coast was especially good on Thursday was on the mound. Starter Dylan Cyphert didn’t have his best control, but struck out 10 in four and two-thirds innings.

 

Cyphert allowed a gapper by Shelton’s John Michael Mathews to open the game, then left him stranded on second base. Three more hitless innings ensued, and Cyphert fanned the side in both the third and fourth.

 

The Bucs bunched four of their five hits in the fifth inning to take a 2-1 lead. Kandler, who surpassed 700 career wins last weekend on the road, summoned freshman Trever Kilcrease with two outs and two runners on.

 

Shortstop Tylski made a diving stop and flip to second baseman Wisely on Aaron Hill’s bouncer up the middle to end the inning. Kilcrease, an Arnold graduate who was the Marlins’ No. 1 pitcher as a senior did the rest.

 

Kilcrease struck out seven against one walk without allowing a hit. Combined with Cyphert, GC pitchers struck out 17.

“He’s just a bulldog who goes after people and has good stuff,” Kandler said. “And he’s fearless.”

 

Well, maybe not in his first game at the junior college level when surrendering four hits in one inning of relief.

“It was nerves going out for my first time in college,” Kilcrease said. “We’re just doing whatever it takes (as a team) and I’m feeling natural on the mound. Whatever role they want me in is fine with me.”

 

Brady Johnson drilled a shot to the mound to open the ninth inning, but Kilcrease gloved it cleanly for the first out. It was the only ball the Bucs hit hard off him.

 

Gulf Coast had eight players combine for 11 hits, Koonce with three singles and two runs scored and Nowak with a single and double. Otherwise the Commodores had three infield hits and at other times had some empty at-bats.

 

“With what we’ve been doing we thought it might take awhile to get our offense going,” Kandler said. “But I’m confident we’ll get better. At some point it just seems like we’re doing what we need to do.”

 

Gulf Coast opened the scoring with an unearned run in the third inning. Koonce lined an opposite-field single to right and stole second. With two outs, clean-up batter Alec Aleywine hit a tapper up the first-base line and narrowly beat the throw to

pitcher Alex London covering.

 

When London couldn’t hold first baseman Alan Smith’s toss Koonce motored around to score.

 

The Bucs bunched four of their five hits to take a 2-1 lead. With one out in the fifth inning, Keegan Morrow singled sharply to left field and sprinted all the way to third when the ball got past left fielder Eli Taylor.

 

Morrow scored on a wild pitch with Mathews at the plate, and Mathews and Sage Smelley both singled to put runners at the corners. Smith’s single brought in Mathews for a 2-1 edge and finished Cyphert.

 

Logan Storey relieved London in the fifth inning and Gulf Coast tied it in the sixth. Tylski had a lead-off double to right-center and with two outs Nowak’s drive to right field glanced off Tucker Clark’s glove for a double.

 

Koonce and Jackson Webb had back-to-back singles to open the Commodores’ seventh and Wisely’s fly ball to right easily scored Koonce with the winning run.

 

Shelton State; 000 020 000 — 2 5 1

Gulf Coast; 001 001 10x — 3 11 2

 

London, Storey (L) 5 and Johnson; Cyphert, Kilcrease (W) 5 and Nowak.

LOB: Shelton State 7, Gulf Coast 9. E: London, Omohundro, Taylor. S: Duncan. SF: Wisely. 2B: Mathews, Tylski, Nowak. SB: Mathews, Koonce 2, Tylski. WP: Cyphert 2. DP: Shelton State 5-3, 6-3. RBIs: Shelton State, Smith; Gulf Coast, Nowak, Wisely.

                                                                                                                                                               

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