Seven innings weren’t enough on Wednesday in the FHSAA Baseball Class 1A state semifinals at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.
Chipley’s David Carley doubled in a run just past diving center fielder Jayden Holcombe for a 1-0 win in eight innings against Newberry.
“He gave it everything he had,” Newberry coach Mike Spina said of his junior’s diving play in right center field. “We probably shifted a little too much to the left. That was tough.”
Junior Braxton Brady tossed seven scoreless innings, but the Tigers got their first two runners on in the top of the eighth inning.
Cade Culbreth singled, went to second on a passed ball and scored on Carley’s hit for the only run of the game.
Meanwhile, Chipley senior pitcher Neal Adams threw 7.1 innings and allowed no runs on six hits with no walks and nine strikeouts.
“It was a pitcher’s duel,” Spina said. “It was a heck of a game, the type of game you want. It wasn’t a blowout. It was a state championship-type game. They battled, we battled. We just couldn’t get the timely hit.”
Junior Ben Beck relieved Brady after Culbreth’s game-winner and was able to get a double play, one of three during the game by the Panthers, to end the inning.
However, reliever Connor Goddin retired the side in order in the bottom of the eighth inning to earn his fourth save.
Chipley (21-7), which advances to Thursday’s 1A state championship game against the winner of the Lafayette (Mayo)-Holmes County (Bonifay) game, had a runner on base in every inning but each time Brady kept them off the scoreboard.
“He was unreal,” Spina said. “He couldn’t have pitched any better. I couldn’t have asked for more from him. He kept them off balance and he got ahead in the count. We just couldn’t get anything going offensively against them.”
The Panthers, who finished the season at 16-9, got their leadoff hitter on base three times but could never get a runner into scoring position.
“Chipley is a good team,” Spina said. “Halfway through I told my guys whoever scores first is going to win this game, but we couldn’t get a runner in scoring position.”
Brady and sophomore Tristan Woodrome each had a pair of hits for Newberry.
Sophomore Jackson McDavid singled to center field to lead off the second inning but was caught stealing.
Woodrome had an infield hit to start the third inning but Adams was able to get a 4-6-3 double play. Three of Newberry’s six hits were infield singles.
Adams and Goddin combined to retire the final seven Newberry batters that they faced.
The Panthers finished the season with the Class 1A-District 7 title, their fourth straight district championship, a regional title, and their second state semifinal appearance in three years.
Newberry defeated Chipley, 7-5, in 2021 for the program’s first state championship.
“We’re young,” said Spina, who is in his sixth season as head coach. “We will be just as dangerous next year. We only lose four seniors.”
Spina was very optimistic about the 2024 season following today’s loss.
“We have been very competitive since I took over the program,” he said. “My young guys said after the game ‘this starts tomorrow.’ That’s the fire you want in your program as a coach. My younger guys came up to me after a tough loss today and asked, ‘Coach, can we get in the weight room tomorrow?’ That means a lot to me.”