By JOSH FRYE
Escambia County High’s baseball season got off to a slow start as the Blue Devils managed only two hits during a February 23 season-opening doubleheader against region opponent St. Michael Catholic. Both games ended when the 10-run mercy rule was invoked.
The Cardinals made quick work of ECHS during the first game, romping their way to a 19-0 win as the Blue Devils were unable to pick up a hit off two SMC pitchers.
St. Michael got the only run it would need on a fielder’s choice grounder in the first inning, then tacked on seven runs in the third to put it out of reach.
ECHS was unable to pick up a base hit off starter Conner Haynes, who struck out four batters and walked just one in three innings. Brady Dishong took over and threw one inning out of the bullpen, striking out three and walking one ECHS batter.
During the second matchup, the Cardinals put together a 10-run first inning, paving the way for a 12-0 win and the sweep.
Anthony McCants and Labron Hooks each singled in the first inning for the Blue Devils, but that was the extent of the team’s offense.
Josh Murphy, Britton Cooper, Luke Marino, Copeland Bowman, Tanner Volovecky and Johnathan Mills all knocked in runs for the Cardinals during the first-frame explosion.
Murphy got the win on the mound for the visitors. He went two innings, striking out four, walking none and allowing only the two first-inning base hits.
ECHS Coach Roland Hall pointed out that his young team would get better as the season progressed.
“We have a young team that is in the first phase of developing into a local powerhouse,” Hall said. “Most of the team is made up of sophomores and below. We have one senior and a few juniors on the roster. If the players keep showing up and buying into the culture that we are trying to build, we are headed for big things.”
ECHS will next travel to meet rival T.R. Miller on Friday, March 5 in a non-region double-header.