ORANGE PARK - In a five homer slugfest that included two grand slams, the St. Johns Country Day School baseball team could not hold off the University Christian batting lineup in a 13-9 district 2-3A …
ORANGE PARK - In a five homer slugfest that included two grand slams, the St. Johns Country Day School baseball team could not hold off the University Christian batting lineup in a 13-9 district 2-3A loss Saturday afternoon at the St. Johns campus.
With senior Troy Britts controlling action from the mound and adding his own grand slam homer in the second inning, the Spartans and a rain delay could not hold off a two home run performance from University Christian’s Ryan Meister, who stung Britts with a three run blast in the first inning, then reliever Jack Hodges with a grand slam in the sixth as both teams traded knockout punches throughout the contest.
With the loss, the Spartans, 10-8, 5-1, and Christians, 13-7, 5-1, are now tied for the district 2-3A top spot after St. Johns won a 4-2 match on March 16. St. Johns has two more district games; April 10 vs. St. Francis and April 19 at St. Joseph while University Christian, the 3A runnerups last year and the district champion over St. Johns last year, finishes with St. Joseph on April 10 and Oak Hall on April 20.
After Britts’ homer pushed the Spartans to a brief 4-3 lead, the Spartans piled on with back-to-back blasts from Tyler Kuramoto and Cody Myers in the third to push the Spartans up 7-3. Kuramoto’s had Hodges on base after a walk with Myers’ shot a solo dinger.
University switched pitchers after Kuramoto’s shot and reliever Darien Smith quieted the Spartan bats with three whiffs in the bottom of the fourth fueling an offensive surge by the Crusaders in the fifth who tagged Britts for two runs off three doubles in the fifth to close the gap to 7-5.
St. Johns got a run in the fifth with Jordan Taylor doubling on a bases loaded field for the Spartans, but Cody Myers and Hodges both struck out to end the inning.
Britts came out in the fifth and Hodges took the mound with the Crusaders loading a bases loaded situation off two singles and a field error. Hodges was helpless against the Crusader batting lineup as they teed off with Meister’s grand slam giving University an 11-8 lead after two deep flyouts.
St. Johns got two baserunners in place; Kuramoto with a deep shot to centerfield and Tanner Zellum with a walk, but an inopportune infield popup turned into a double play for University.
With Taylor now replacing Hodges on the mound, University got two more runs off two doubles and a single.
Down 13-8 in their last at bat, St. Johns continued to breathe hope to a walkoff winner with Taylor singling, Troy Myers walking and Hodges getting hit by a pitch loading the bases with two outs. One run came with Cody Myers getting hit by a pitch, but Zellem got whiffed on a three balls/two strikes pitch to end the game.