Blue Devils edge into finals

Clay in regions on rankings

By Mike Zima Correspondent
Posted 5/11/22

JACKSONVILLE - Clay High pitcher Brandon Adams was outdueled by Garrett Corbett in a battle of aces as host Bishop Kenny nipped the Blue Devils 2-1 in the District 3-4A championship game on May 5, …

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Blue Devils edge into finals

Clay in regions on rankings

Posted

JACKSONVILLE - Clay High pitcher Brandon Adams was outdueled by Garrett Corbett in a battle of aces as host Bishop Kenny nipped the Blue Devils 2-1 in the District 3-4A championship game on May 5, 2022.

Working exclusively from the stretch, Corbett fired a three-hitter, striking out five batters and walking only one.

“Corbett was locating really well, and the umpire was giving him the low and outside strike,” observed Clay coach Josh Persinger. “The slider is his go-to pitch, but we knew that coming in.”

The Crusaders scored both of their runs in the first inning, taking advantage of some well-placed hits and uncharacteristic wildness from Adams. Leadoff man Andrew Tabor bounced a single up the middle, just out of the reach of Clay shortstop Aidan Hampton. Tabor stole second base and advanced to third on a soft liner off the bat of Corbett, another hit that just eluded Hampton. With two outs, Clay catcher Dylan Greene could not control a high curve ball, and the passed ball allowed Tabor to race home with the game’s first run— ending a 13-inning scoreless streak by Clay pitchers. Pinch runner Cayden Jaeger, who had reached second base on the passed ball, advanced to third on a wild pitch. Then the Crusaders’ Aidan Charletta muscled a bloop single just beyond the infield, scoring Jaeger.

“I think they squared one hit up all night,” said Persinger. “But a couple of seeing eye hits, a couple of bloopers, and that was the game.”

Persinger did not fault Greene for the passed ball. With Adams throwing 90 miles per hour, if he missed his intended pitch location, the ball would be difficult to catch. Persinger was, however, a bit frustrated with the positioning of his fielders.

“Defensively, we were out of position sometimes,” he said. “Early on, we were playing lefties almost like a right-handed pull hitter.”

Clay cut the deficit in half in the third inning. Max Williams laced a single to right field, advanced to second base when Josh Rouw was hit by a pitch, and moved to third on a groundout. Jayden Long

lifted a fly ball to center that was deep enough to score Williams.

The Blue Devils got three hits and stranded five runners on base in the first three innings. They had runners on first and second with no outs in the second inning when Dylan Greene reached base on an error and Hampton singled to center. But Brady Greene then failed to lay down a bunt and struck out. Corbett then struck out Tyler Mills and Alec Burke to end the threat. In the third inning, Logan Wilson and Greene were aboard with two outs when Hampton lined out to second base.

“We play small ball, and we live and die with the bunt,” said Persinger. “Tonight, we did not get the bunt down.”

Clay did not put a runner on base in the final four frames as Corbett retired the final 13 Blue Devils batters.

Adams, who is committed to pitch for the University of North Florida next year, was impressive. The senior fanned eight over five and one third innings, allowing just a single earned run. Bishop Kenny had only one hit after the first inning.

The Blue Devils fell to 17-10 and hope to receive an at-large bid to the Class 4A regional playoffs. The regional will include the champions of Districts 1 through 4 and the next four highest ranked teams in the region by the MaxPrep.com web site. Clay was ranked seventh in the Florida Class 4A MaxPreps rankings entering the game.

“We took care of business well enough during the regular season to qualify, I believe,” said Persinger. “In other years, we have lost the district championship game and then made it to the state final four, so maybe we can make a run.”

Bishop Kenny, ranked sixth in the MaxPreps Florida Class 4A rankings entering the game, improved to 19-6 and will likely host a regional playoff game.

Tabor was the only player on either team with two hits, and the center fielder also stole two bases.

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