Senior pitcher Austin Hiatt hurled a complete-game shutout to lead the Choctaw Indians to a 7-0 win over the West Florida Jaguars in Thursday’s District 1-6A championship game.
It’s the Indians’ first district title since 1999 and a moment the long-haired Hiatt has been waiting for since he was a freshman.
“Now it’s a dream come true,” Hiatt said. “…I never imagined doing this, but being a senior, I think this is a great way to end the relationship I’ve had with my friends on this team. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
The Indians banged out 13 hits off the Jaguars’ pitching staff, the majority of which came against starting pitcher Tyler Jackson.
“Tonight we faced a kid that kind of gave us fits last time we faced him, and we put up 13 hits,” Choctaw head coach Ryan Lanpher said. “We got to their bullpen and that was really the difference.”
Choctaw got things going against Jackson early, as Austin Lawniczar laced a double down the left field and was scored one batter later after David Maberry hit a triple down the third base line.
The bottom of Choctaw’s lineup loaded the bases in the bottom of the second, but Jackson didn’t fold, forcing an infield fly out and two strikeouts, the last of which was Maberry who went down looking to end the threat.
It wasn’t the last time Choctaw loaded the bases. In all, the Indians loaded the bases on seven separate occasions, leaving 15 men on base for the night.
“We left a lot of guys on base, even with the seven runs,” Lanpher said. “They had to pitch in pressure situations nonstop so I kept telling them to keep plugging because it was only a matter of time.”
And plug they did. The Indians added another run in the third after loading the bases, then broke the game open with a three-run fifth inning.
That was more than enough support for Hiatt, who allowed the Jags nothing more than singles on a cool Gulf Breeze night.
“I was here as an assistant coach his freshman year and Hiatt was one of the first kids I had an opportunity to coach,” Lanpher said. “He’s stuck it out four years day in and day out, so tonight it paid off for him.”
At Gulf Breeze
Choctaw 7, West Florida 0
WFT…000 000 0 – 0 5 2
CHS…101 032 X – 7 13 0
WP – Austin Hiatt (7 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 8 K, 3 BB). LP – Tyler Jackson (4.1 IP, 5 ER, 9 H, 5 K, 3 BB). West Florida hitters – Adam Ostergaard 1-3; Dalton Wise 1-3. Choctaw hitters – David Maberry 2-3 3B, 2B, RBI, 2 BB; Spencer Michalek 2-4 2B, RBI, BB; Reese Kneen 2-3 2 R; Kyle Johnson 2-2 R, RBI; Drew Mercier 3-3 R.
•Who: West Florida/Choctaw loser at Wakulla/Mosley winner; Wakulla/Mosley loser at West Florida/Choctaw winner
•What: Region 1-6A quarterfinals
•When: 7 p.m. Wednesday, April 27