Faced with one of the state’s top pitchers in a single elimination showdown, the Tate Aggies didn’t flinch.
The Aggies manufactured just enough against Navarre star pitcher Matt Cronin for a 4-2 win in the Region 1-7A quarterfinal on Wednesday.
“What an incredible pitcher,” Tate head coach Greg Blackmon said. “We didn’t play our best but he had a lot to do with it. He puts a lot of pressure on you to try and do things you ordinarily wouldn’t do.”
Initially Cronin and Navarre had the upper hand. Cronin struck out four in the first two innings while the Raiders put two men on base in each inning.
Tate starting pitcher Jake Davis rose to the occasion however, forcing a ground out in the first and a fly out from Michael Sandle in the second to end the inning.
“Jake did a great job, but he’s really done that all year,” Blackmon said. “That’s one of the things that’s kept us in the where we are: our pitching and our defense.”
The Aggies came alive at the plate in the third inning when Logan McGuffey jumped on the first pitch he saw from Cronin, a fat fastball he parked over the left field wall.
“We’d been working with him all week about attacking the first pitch fastball,” Blackmon said. “He’s got about as much ability as any of these guys out here offensively. If he’ll do that, he’d have a lot more success.”
Navarre wouldn’t go quietly, though. The Raiders jumped on top in the fourth inning when Koby Anderson singled in two runs.
That lead didn’t last long, as Tate’s Logan Blackmon singled in the tying run before a passed ball allowed the Aggies to regain a 3-2 lead.
Passed balls were a problem all night for the Raiders as Cronin and catcher Dusty Rogers often seemed out of sync. Another passed ball allowed Tate to extend its lead to 4-2 in the fifth.
“We kinda knew that coming in, that there’d be a chance [of passed balls],” Blackmon said. “When they got to third base I’d tell them to look for it, and we got two of them so that helped us.”
With Milton next on the schedule after the Panthers’ 5-4 over Pace, Logan Blackmon said nothing would change in the Aggies’ usual process.
“I think we just need to keep doing what we do,” Logan Blackmon said. “If you get in a bad spot, just shorten up and put a good swing on it. That’s what we do.”
That process has given the Aggies more than a little confidence that this is the year for their first state title since 2005.
“We’re going to win state,” McGuffey said. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
Tate 4, Navarre 2
NHS…000 200 0 — 2 5 0
THS…001 210 x — 4 6 1
WP — Jake Davis (4 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 3 K, 2 BB) ; LP — Matt Cronin (6 IP, 4 ER, 6 H, 10 K). Navarre – Koby Anderson 1-1, 2 RBIs, 2 BB; Michael Sandle 1-4; Matt Cronin 1-3 BB; Tate hitters – Mason Land 2-3 R; Logan McGuffey 1-2 HR, RBI, R; Logan Blackmon 1-3 RBI. Next: Tate hosts Milton on Tuesday in the regional semifinal.
•Who: Milton at Tate
•What: Region 1-7A semifinals
•When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
•Where: Tate High School