Tuesday night at Tate (vs. Milton) will arguably offer the only show in town when it comes to sports in Escambia and Santa Rosa county.
With the Ice Flyers off and the Blue Wahoos playing on the road – after Navarre, Catholic and Pace were eliminated last week, and with West Florida traveling for a playoff game – the Tate Aggies and Milton Panthers will collide at 7 p.m. for what will likely be the biggest stage around.
“Milton is a scrappy team and they play hard – it’s gonna be from the first pitch to the last pitch anytime you play them,” Tate coach Greg Blackmon said. “They (Milton) like to bunt, hit and run, bunt and run – anything they can do to put pressure on your defense.
“Defensively, they are very good up the middle.”
Milton coach George Blake and the Panthers seem equally familiar with Tate, and will expect another tight battle.
“Our expectations are that we want to come out and win the ball game – but Tate is not going to make that easy,” Blake said. “I expect a pitcher’s ball game. We want to try to execute early and score runs. We wanna try to put pressure on them and try to take away some of the things they do.”
The meeting marks the fourth game between the clubs this season, but this time, it’s win or go home.
Tate came out on top in the regular-season series (2-1), but each competition was a tight battle.
In the most recent meeting, a 2-1 win for Milton, all three runs were generated off of solo home runs.
Both teams are hot off confidence-boosting wins, as Tate topped reigning PNJ pitcher of the year – Matt Cronin – and the Navarre Raiders while Milton bested its rival Pace in the first round.
“We’ve had some light practices (since Wednesday’s win) and a long practice Friday,” Blake said. “We want them laid back and not feeling too much pressure or excitement before the game. I hope they are laid back until about 6:55 p.m. (Tuesday). Then we’ll be ready to get excited and play and feed off that adrenaline for about three hours.”
For the Aggies, they will seek to continue to add to Tate’s rich program history.
“Our last (MLB) draft pick was 2012 – that’s a whole high school class that’s passed since – and our last state title was 2005,” Blackmon said. “This group has added to the legacy. However it ends, who knows – baseball is a dang crazy game anyways.”
Region 1-7A Semifinal
Where: Tate High
When: 7 p.m.
Who: Tate Aggies vs. Milton Panthers
WATCH: PNJ Casual Chats as sports reporter Brian Achatz has some fun with Tate baseball and Milton baseball before the big game.