PENSACOLA, Fla. – A pair of errors helped fuel a decisive four-run sixth inning for Booker T. Washington High School of Pensacola as the Grove Ridgerunners lost for a second straight day at the Aggie Classic, this time by a score of 5-1.
The Ridgerunners (9-2) committed three errors on the night, wasting another strong start by Gibson Russ, who took his first loss on the mound this season. The two errors plus a single led to the go-ahead run in the top of the sixth before a two-run single followed by a double provided the decisive blows in what to that point had been a pitcher’s duel.
Russ (3-1) went 5.1 innings, allowing five hits and just one earned run, working around five walks while striking out three. Erick Ryan got the final five outs in relief, allowing two hits while striking out a pair.
But Grove could only manage two hits off Wildcat pitchers Ryan Gauci and Matt Cukjata. Gauci worked around five walks in 4.1 innings, giving up only a second inning run on a passed ball. Cukjata slammed the door on any hopes of a comeback, allowing just one baserunner on a walk while striking out five in the final 2.2 innings.
Cordale Barton walked in the second inning and pinch runner Cole Sharp eventually scored on a passed ball for Grove’s only run of the game in the bottom of the second inning. The Ridgerunners earned six walks in all, but could only muster singles by Benny Steffenson and Kaden Livermore, leaving a pair of runners on base in the second, third and fifth innings.
Grove will play Tate High School Wednesday night at 7 p.m. before finishing the tournament with a final game on Thursday.