Massey's Clutch HR leads Gulf Breeze Over #1 Ranked Pace
Mid-week games are traditionally devoid of storylines as baseball teams are traditionally saving pitching arms in preparation for District series weekend competition. This Tuesday night game would prove to be much different. The Pace Patriots visited Gulf Breeze coming off of a weekend district two-game series split with rival 7A powerhouse Tate. They also came into the game holding a #1 ranking in the 7A classification, a #3 over-all ranking (all classifications), a top 30 national ranking and the defending 7A state runners-up to champion Venice. Pace is a program that appears to continue to rise and is loaded with Division I talent. Oh and it is also the program where Gulf Breeze head coach Kevin Ricks was an assistant prior to taking the helm at GBHS. Even when trying not to add unecessary storylines to already important non-district games, this one was just a different game than the previous ones. With all of the expectations and hype surrounding the Patriots' pitching staff and lineup, it was the clutch pitching and timely hitting from the Dolphins that proved to be the difference in the game. Braden Massey started on the mound, in just his second appearance of the season, striking out seven Patriot batters in five innings of work. Massey's contribution would prove to be even more decisive at the plate however, as he helped his own cause and delivered a dramatic ending in comeback fashion. Massey stepped into the batter's box in the bottom of the sixth inning with a runner on base as the Dolphins trailed 2-1. Gulf Breeze was down to its final outs remaining and opportunities dwindling, thanks to solid pitching and fielding by the Pace defense. Massey hit a hanging slider over the leftfield fence for a two-run, game deciding homerun in what would add an exclamation point to his magical night. The win improves the Dolphins to 6-8 overall with a crucial stretch of non-district games looming. Gulf Breeze can get to back to .500 as they host the Washington Wildcats on Thursday night before traveling to Escambia to take on the Gators Friday night. Following those two games, a rivalry game with the Catholic Crusaders looms.
Photo credit: Greg Pachkowski, PNJ