Until the final two innings of play, it appeared Tate would defend home with a win over Pace and would hold the No. 1 spot in District 1-7A.
But the Pace Patriots — who won 9-5 — and Chase Beckstrom had alternate plans.
“I felt like we competed all night long,” Pace coach Jason McBride said. “Tate jumped on us early (5-0 lead) but our guys stayed in the game and kept battling. I felt like we were one hit away from closing the gap, and in the sixth we came up with that big hit.”
In the top of the sixth, after Vito Orlando singled to score Jason Barlow, Beckstrom approached the plate with the bases loaded.
Beckstrom smacked a hard ground ball down the third base line, as Orlando, Daniel Lemay and Dalton Childs crossed the plate and tied the game 5-5.
“I knew the hit was in bounds, but I wasn’t sure if Lemay was going to be able to score from first,” Beckstrom said. “That was big for him to score from there. I knew he had a chance and I’m glad he did.
“This team (Pace) is an exciting team. Especially when we get up like that … we’re not gonna stop. It was a slow game for us at first, but as soon as things started rolling we were ready to go.”
The Aggies failed to score in the sixth and seventh, but in the final inning Andrew Bates led off for Pace with a double.
After a nicely executed bunt by Barlow and a errid throw out attempt, Bates reached home to give Pace it’s first lead of the night and produce the final lead change of the game.
Orlando then doubled to grab two more RBIs, followed by Beckstrom who plated a run with a single.
The win gives the Patriots the No. 1 spot currently in District 1-7A, and they will face Tate Friday before two district meetings with Escambia to conclude district play.
“That’s a huge boost of momentum,” McBride said. “Anytime you can come back and win a game against Tate, that’s a big boost for our guys.”
Tate’s Jake Davis (5 IP, 6H, R, ER, 6K, HR) contained the Patriots to one run through five innings of work, ending three innings with a strikeout with a runner on base.
“He (Davis) pitched well tonight,” McBride said. “Tate is a scrappy team. They make all the plays and you’ve gotta earn everything you get from them. It’s a big boost for our guys to get (a district win) here at Tate.
“If you are not ready for Tate, they are fixin’ to run you out of the ball park. We’re gonna be ready for Friday night and I guarantee you Tate will be ready.”
The Patriots host Tate in game No. 2 on Friday at 6 p.m.
“(Wednesday night) was a big win,” Beckstrom said. “Tate is a good and confident ball team. I’m glad we beat ‘em, but we are staying in it. We’re not gonna get big headed. We’re gonna come out with the same intensity Friday and try to do it again.”
•Who: Tate Aggies vs. Pace Patriots
•What: District 1-7A contest
•When: 6 p.m. Friday
•Where: Pace High School