Double play Dynamo

By Randy Lefko
Posted 7/6/17

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Clay High baseball coach Josh Persinger, at times, expected double plays from his infield in tight situations and, most times, it was second baseman Cole Escher who was the pivot …

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Double play Dynamo


GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Clay High baseball coach Josh Persinger, at times, expected double plays from his infield in tight situations and, most times, it was second baseman Cole Escher who was the pivot man for the two-out highlight.

“He worked well with both of our shortstops; Connor Solomon and Austin Burke, who are also pitchers, and made the play happen,” said Persinger. “The double play on defense is the same as a homer on

offense. It ignites a dugout.”

For his efforts on the field with nine double plays registered and also his batting prowess, Escher has been named as the Clay Today All County player of the year. It has been written throughout the season that the Blue Devils overcame a disastrous 1-7 start to surge into the second half of the season with a key win over county rival Fleming Island High pushing Clay into go mode for a district runnerup finish and a region championship berth. Escher hit for a three-run triple to fuel the Blue Devil win over Fleming Island then hit the gamewinning homer in a 2-1 win over district rival Ponte Vedra. Escher followed his dramatic homer against Ponte Vedra with a game-ending double play. With that Ponte Vedra win, Clay positioned themselves as the number one seed in district play en route to a deep region run, despite losing the district championship game to Ponte Vedra. Ponte Vedra would lose in the region quarterfinals to Paxon. Clay would fall to Mosley in the region final.

For the Clay Today All County first team, Solomon is named as the team’s shortstop with his smooth play in half of the Clay High double plays and his strong bat throughout the season. At third base, St. Johns Country Day School junior Troy Myers was one of the top batters in the area and one of the reasons why coach Tom Lucas’ season ended with a flurry of wins over the top teams in the county; Ridgeview and Oakleaf. The Spartans achilles heel wound up being district rival University Christian who beat St. Johns in all their meetings en route to a district title and a Class 3A runnerup finish.

At second base, Oakleaf High’s defense, with pitcher Chris Mauloni a first teamer also, looked to Tristan Adams, a Florida Tech commit, as a their pivotal defender.

At first base, one of the big hitters in the area, Tyler Keaton of Keystone Heights was instrumental in getting the Indians a district title with his six homers matching up with teammate Gage Hall, a first teamer at catcher, who led the area with eight homers. Hall was tops in the area in runs batted in with 46.

On the mound, Mauloni, a Jacksonville University commit, powered through most area lineups with his speed and finished with 63 strikeouts and a 1.14 earned runs average. Mauloni shared top pitcher duties with teammate Justin Wager, heading to Lander College, who is a first teamer in the outfield with his .451 batting average and 1.98 ERA. Wager was coach Chris Lannom’s vocal leader on the field and in the dugout.

Top relief pitcher was Clay’s Austin Burke, who shared duties on the mound with Solomon and Andy Yarbrough, and finished with a 0.96ERA with a 7-3-1 overall record.

Joining Wager in the outfield, Ridgeview High landed speedster Garrett Barfield in left field, one of the area’s best basestealers, with Fleming Island’s scrappy centerfielder, Cory Solomon, the Golden Eagle’s workhorse, who also pitched.

Player of year

Cole Escher, Second Base, Clay High Team-best .443 average, 25 RBI, 2 HR for regional finalist


3B Troy Myers, SJCDS .400BA. Also pitched

2B Tristan Adams, Oakleaf .333, 17 hits/51 ABs, 9 RBI (going to Fla. Tech)

SS Connor Solomon, CHS Also pitcher 5-2-1, 1.82ERA

1B Tyler Keaton, KHHS .354BA, 6HRs, 25RBIs


OF Justin Wager, Senior, Oakleaf Team-best .451 average; added 17 RBI, HR; also 5-2, 2 saves, 45 Ks, 1.98 ERA

OF Cory Solomon, Senior, Fleming Island Also pitcher 2.08ERA 5-1-0, 24K

OF Garrett Barfield, Senior, Ridgeview, .458BA


P Chris Mauloni, Senior, Oakleaf 31.1 inn, 5-2 rec, 63 Ks, 1.14 ERA(JU)

.394, 28 hits/71 ABs, 5 2Bs, 5 HR, 27 RBI, only struck out 6 times( going to JU)

Relief Pitcher Austin Burke, Senior, Clay 7-3-1 0.96 ERA, 46Ks

C Gage Hall, Senior, Keystone Heights Sr., Hit .450, 46 RBI, 8 HR, 11 2Bs; .995 fielding percentage for Indians

Second Team

3B Josh Lemen, Clay .390BA

2B Brandon Dumas, RHS .385BA

SS Yamil Tosado RHS

1B Ty Andrews, Senior, Oakleaf .357BA, 21RBIs

OF/P Billy Schopp, Senior, Fleming Island .398BA, 22RBIs, also pitched 3-4-0, 3.24 ERA, 41K

OF Carlos Gonzales, Ridgeview .302BA, speedster on field.

OF Tyler Grogg, Senior, SJCDS

P Tyler Robison had over 30 Hit .416 with 29 RBIs; also went 5-3 with a save, 38 Ks in 49.2 IP, top 10 in RBISs, Savannah State Commit

Relief Pitcher: Nick Frascello, RHS Tallahassee Community College Commit. Lead city in pitching most of year.. 5-1 Record, 1.47 ERA 46 strikeouts in 39 innings..

C Chase Holman, Clay

Honorable mention

RHS: TJ Olivera C .385BA; Hunter Morris P 1.24ERA, 5-0; Brycen Jones 3B

KHHS: Pierson Lewis .400BA, Connor O’Steen 2B/P .333BA 8-2-1 pitching 2.32ERA

SJCDS: Evan Engelbrecht .382BA P/OF, Tyler Grogg OF .382BA, Troy Britts P/OF 2.35ERA 68Ks

FIHS: Justin Hawkins .367BA; Calab Lanoux C; Chase Chafton 1B/P

CHS: Tyler Spence .356BA, Andy Yarbrough 1B/P; Kevin Jackson OF

MHS: Doug Evans .351BA; Justin Mosley .308BA

OPHS: Alex Cruz .321BA

OHS: Ty Andrews 1B, Ian Marler SS; Keegan Barrs 3B, Vince Caldas


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