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Gulf Coast inches closer

Updated Apr 10, 2017 at 10:56 PM

By PAT McCANN
News Herald Executive Sports Editor

 

PANAMA CITY — Gulf Coast hasn’t reached the must-win portion of the Panhandle Conference baseball schedule, but the Commodores and their counterparts at least can see an outline of the finish line off in the distance.

 

With that as perspective, Gulf Coast welcomed Monday evening as an excellent chance to make up ground in the race for third place and took advantage with a 9-1 win over Northwest Florida State at Bill Frazier Field.

 

The Commodores drew within one game of third-place Tallahassee, a 16-6 loser to Chipola on Monday, in the race for third and a berth in the play-in game for the state tournament. First and second in the conference are guaranteed of advancing.

 

Gulf Coast also pulled with three games of second-place Northwest Florida, which slumped to 10-7 and 26-14. The

Commodores are 7-10 in the PC and 29-13 overall. Tallahassee is 8-9 in conference play. Chipola is well in front at 14-3 and last-place Pensacola is 3-13.

 

Gulf Coast left-hander Dylan Cyphert and Northwest Florida right-hander Eric Orze reprised their meeting in the conference opener here on March 7. This time Cyphert produced a dominant performance, changing speeds effectively while allowing four hits and striking out nine in seven innings.

 

“I was trying to throw all my pitches for strikes, something I didn’t do against them last time,” the sophomore from Cranberry, Pennsylvania said.

 

His experience in pitching big games also was a factor as he struggled only while allowing three singles in the fifth inning.

“Absolutely, especially at this point of the season,” Cyphert said.

 

The Commodores scored two unearned runs in the fifth inning to take a 2-1 lead, knocked out Orze while scoring six times in the sixth and ended the game by the run rule on Alec Aleywine’s run-scoring single in the eighth.

 

Jeff Omohundro had four singles to pace a 12-hit attack, Alec Wisely had two singles in the six-run sixth, the latter producing

two RBIs, and Josh Nowak had a key two-run double during that inning.

 

Otherwise, Cyphert was the story as the Commodores somehow hit into four double plays and won going away.

 

Cyphert helped himself in the Raiders’ fourth inning after he walked Landon Crowder and Hunter Oliver with nobody out. Cleanup hitter Ross Goforth advanced the runners with a sacrifice bunt, but Cyphert fielded Mike Salvatore’s comeback and alertly ran down Crowder between third and home for the second out. Bryant Harris Jr. flied out to end the threat.

“That was a big play for me,” Cyphert said of the rundown. “It gave me a confidence boost for sure.”

 

Gulf Coast couldn’t solve Orze, who already had been key in two conference wins over the Commodores this spring, until getting some help in the fifth. Omohundro opened with his second hit and was sacrificed to second by JT Duncan.

 

Crowder threw away Rashard Ranie’s grounder as Omohundro scored with two outs and Ranie raced to second. Jordan Tylski singled to left field to make it 2-1.

 

The Raiders lone run came when they grouped singles by Gabe Austin, Cole Halfacre and Daino Deas in the fifth inning. Austin had two of their four hits and scored their run and Deas had the RBI.

 

Tylski and Wisely each finished with two hits for Gulf Coast. Trey Leonard pitched a scoreless eighth inning.

 

The teams meet Wednesday in Niceville to complete their season series. Following Monday’s game, Northwest Florida huddled with Gulf Coast coach Mike Kandler in a show of support for the Raiders’ rival.

 

Kandler is undergoing exploratory surgery this morning in an attempt to discover the origin of a cancer that was revealed recently near the back of his tongue.

 

Kandler said he expects to be back in the dugout on Wednesday.

 

Northwest;000 010 00 — 1 4 3

Gulf Coast;000 026 01 — 9 12 2

 

Orze (L), Whitehead 6, Sanders 6, Greathouse 6 and Halfacre; Cyphert (W), Leonard 8 and Nowak.

LOB: Northwest Florida 8, Gulf Coast 6. E: Salvatore, Deas, Crowder, Omohundro, Tylski. S: Goforth, Duncan. DP: Northwest Florida 4, 6u, 6-3, 1-6-3, 5-3. 2B: Nowak, Duncan. CS: Austin, by Nowak. WP: Orze 3, Cyphert 2. RBIs: Deas, Tylski, Duncan, Nowak 2, Wisely 2, Aleywine.

                                                                                                                                                          

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