LIVE OAK - In a game of innings of despair; two in general for both teams; Clay and Suwannee high schools on a hot Saturday afternoon in Live Oak, the Blue Devils, now 15-2 with losses to Creekside …
LIVE OAK - In a game of innings of despair; two in general for both teams; Clay and Suwannee high schools on a hot Saturday afternoon in Live Oak, the Blue Devils, now 15-2 with losses to Creekside and Bolles, prevailed after being down 9-0 to win a audacious 14-11 contest that could be a preview of future region playoffs.
“When it got to 8-0 from one terrible inning, I did not do my usually ranting and raving, but let them know that this is the kind of game that you will remember for the rest of your life if you remain calm and let it play out,” said Persinger. “When it got to 9-0 off a homer, I almost choked on my spit the next inning, but then we got a few bounces and it was 9-5. From there, I think our mental focus changed to let’s just go home to hey, how about a great comeback win.”
Suwannee, ranked 39th in Florida, third in Class 4A and 219th nationally brought the farm (literally in Live Oak against the vaunted Blue Devil pitching staff with coach Josh Persinger not finding an answer the Bulldog lumber until late in the contest.
“Little things that got bigger, field errors, hitting guys with pitches, and them knocking the snot out of the ball, that’s all it was,” said Persinger. “We knew we were a better team to ourselves and that, with some luck, we could turn it around.”
In the sixth, with Clay rocked by an eight inning fourth, the Suwannee hitter Josh Fernald smashed Brandon Adams to the yard to go up 9-0.
“They were hitting everything,” said Persinger. “We put Steven (Reiss) in and got some control.”
The ball started rolling for Clay; more flying, with Dylan Green doubling, Logan Wilson doubling, a walk, two singles, a walk, a single to Blake Parker to 9-4, then a double from Max Williams to score the game 9-6 as the Blue Devil dugout started to vibrate with energy. Wilson would double on his return trip to the batter’s box to 9-8 Wyatt Root singling to shake the Earth. Reiss would fly out, but the shift in momentum was real.
“That’s when you could see the tiger in the eyes as the song goes,” said Persinger.
Suwannee tried to stem the wave with another homer; a solo shot, but Reiss prevailed to end the inning.
Two singles, two walks and an error tied the game at 10-10 before Root singled to score Long and put Clay up 11-10.
“They were not backing down; it was their home turf,” said Persinger. “We had to keep focused and disciplined not to let the game slip away.”
In the seventh, M Barrett reached on a dropped third strike error, but Alec Burke whiffed to simmer the energy, but Parker crushed a double to right field in front of a Richard Long single to put two runners in play. Up next, Max Williams, who smashed a two run homer to defeat St. Johns Country Day School, calmly blasted his second RBI Dinger Buzzer Beater to give Clay one more inning to secure the win.
Suwannee, again, roared with a double after two ground outs, but a strikeout ended the game.