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Daneault’s home run sparks No.1 Spartans

By Mike Zima Correspondent
Posted 5/11/23

ORANGE PARK - St. Johns Country Day School junior outfielder Kody Daneault scored three runs and drove in two with a home run to back Jacob Thomas’ power pitching as St. Johns Country Day …

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Daneault’s home run sparks No.1 Spartans


ORANGE PARK - St. Johns Country Day School junior outfielder Kody Daneault scored three runs and drove in two with a home run to back Jacob Thomas’ power pitching as St. Johns Country Day School claimed the FHSAA District 2-2A championship with an 8-1 win over visiting St. Joseph Academy (St. Augustine) on May 4. St. Johns is ranked number one in Class 2A and will be a heavy favorite to earn a second Final Four berth in the past three years. St. Johns was Class 2A runnerup two years ago, but lost in the region finals last year.

The Spartans, now 22-4, will host eighth seed Christ’s Church Academy (5-16) Tuesday, May 9 at 7:00 p.m. St. Johns rolled to a 26-0 district semifinal win over First Coast Christian to advance to the championship game. The Spartans had 17 hits with a J.D. Hay homer and five doubles; two each by Mason Terry and Nick Bowden and one by Thomas Gibbs while pitcher Jeff Ensell striking out 12 batters.

Against St. Joseph Academy, Daneault scored the game’s first run, leading off the bottom of the first inning with a walk, advancing to second on a ground out and scoring on a base hit by Shaun Andrade. Andrade came home on Isaiah Mame’s sacrifice fly three batters later. The junior coaxed another walk from Flashes starter Braden Johns in the second inning and scored on Kyle Boylston’s double to give the hosts a 3-0 lead.

“He has got a great eye, and does not swing at borderline pitches,” SJCD head coach Tom Lucas said of Daneault, whose batting average is hovering at .500 and who has three times as many walks as strikeouts this season. “He does not give at-bats away.”

In the decisive fourth inning. Daneault fouled off two pitches while working his way from 0-2 to a full count. He pulled Johns’ next offering well over the fence in right center field, driving in Hunter Rodgers from second base to extend the SJCD lead to 5-0.

“I think he’s been the best hitter in the area all year,” said Lucas. “He is going to come through in the clutch.”

As if Daneault’s hitting heroics were not enough, he threw out Mark Alveco at third base from left field in the top of the first inning, preventing the Flashes from seizing the early momentum.

Meanwhile, Thomas was in complete control on the mound. The lefty allowed only two hits in four and two thirds innings, striking out nine and walking four. The only blemish on the performance was an opposite field home run by the Flashes Jacob Guthmiller leading off the fifth inning.

“I thought he was really good,” said Lucas. “That is a good team over there. In our park, you are going to give up some home runs, but you just hope you do not walk anyone in front of them.”

Thomas was at his best in the fourth inning and SJCD leading 3-0. He struck out Eli Robshaw on a diving slider, but Robshaw reached base when the pitch skipped away from catcher Hunter Rodgers. Thomas then appeared to pick off Robshaw at first, but the umpires called a balk, sending Robshaw to second. Dayton Taylor followed a walk to Aiden Torrez with a sharp single past Spartans third baseman Seth Alford. The Flashes held Robshaw up at third base, electing not to test Daneault again.

With the bases loaded and no outs, Thomas required only 10 pitches to sit down Camden Bishop looking, ring up Gaven Mohrman on a back-door curveball and freeze Gavin Comer on a mid-eighties fastball down the middle.

“That was a pressure moment,” said Lucas. “If they get a grand slam there, we are behind. But we had a senior on the mound, and he stepped up.”

Thomas, a North Florida commitment, also went two for four at the plate. He gave way on the mound to senior Jeffrey Henry, who pitched two and one third innings of hitless relief.

Boylston followed Daneault’s blast in the bottom of the fourth with a double, and scored on Shaun Andrade’s homer to left to give SJCD a 7-0 lead. Rodgers drove in the final Spartans run in the fifth inning with a double to deep center that plated George Gilson, who had singled off of the fence in right.

Every Spartans starter had either a hit, a run or a run batted in.

“We returned 11 seniors from last year, so these guys have been around,” said Lucas. “This is probably the best hitting team we have had.”

St. Joseph Academy ends its season with a 15-10 mark.