FERNANDINA BEACH – Trying to snap back from a mid-week 10-4 loss to Yulee, the Keystone Heights High Indians baseball team packed up and headed north into the backyard of the district leading …
FERNANDINA BEACH – Trying to snap back from a mid-week 10-4 loss to Yulee, the Keystone Heights High Indians baseball team packed up and headed north into the backyard of the district leading Fernandina Beach Pirates for a Friday night sneak peek of a possible district tournament clash, the Fernandina Beach Pirates, 17-4, after a first at bat attempt with two runners on base left abandoned for the Indians, the Pirates went to work quickly, taking full advantage of two Indian errors to put a quick three on the board. The Indians went on to uncharacteristically make five errors on their way to the 10-0 defeat going into the last week of the regular season.
Keystone Heights also sits in one of the winningest districts; district 4-3A, where four teams have winning records; Taylor (14-7), PK Yonge (15-7), Trinity Catholic (15-7) and Keystone Heights (14-6).
“Defensively, the last two games have just not been us,” said Keystone Heights Head Coach Chris Roach, who had two five game win streaks within the season to get to 15-4. “We have to go back to the small ball and work on the basics, for sure. A lot of ground ball work.”
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Indians as they got hot in the top of the third inning with two good hits and a walk, they had the bases loaded with only one out. But as luck would have it on this Friday night, Keystone Heights hit into a double play to keep the goose egg on the board, but even worse, pulling any momentum out from under the Indians.
“I couldn’t buy a break tonight,” said Roach. “I couldn’t buy one for two games now. But that’s the game of baseball and why we play it. Every night is going to be something different.”
With two outs in the top of the sixth inning. Keystone had two runners on and were desperate to slow down the Pirates 8-0 lead. But again, a ground out would end the top of the inning and bring the Pirates back on offense. With two runners on and only one out, a sacrifice fly to right field allowed the ninth run to cross the plate, followed by a grounder up the middle which was fielded, but the throw could not catch the runner at the plate for the 10th Pirate run, ending the game on the 10 run rule.
Indians Pitchers Benjamin Goforth, Ryan Jones, and Chase Packham notched six strikeouts, gave up six walks, and six earned runs off seven hits. As a team, the Indians logged four hits, earned five bases on balls and only struck out one time in 22 at bats.
“Hopefully we see those guys in a couple weeks in the regional tournament; that is the goal,” said Roach. “We’ll be a better team next week.” And having no rest for the weary, Coach Roach was quick to point out, they are right back at it Monday. “We go straight to Tocoi Creek on Monday, North Marion at home Tuesday, and wrap up the season at Clay on Thursday. It doesn’t get any easier for this team. We are going to continue to gain going into the district tournament. My philosophy is you have to play the best to eventually be the best. We have a long way to go and a lot of work to get done. We just have to shake this one off and move forward.”
Eagles top Knights
By Randy Lefko
FLEMING ISLAND - After a 6-0 loss to Buchholz, the Fleming Island High baseball team regrouped to take wins over Bartram Trail, 9-6, and Oakleaf, 2-0, in two clashes that hope to prepare the Golden Eagles for district tournament play.
Against Buchholz (16-6), the Eagles, with pitcher Danny Sakowski on the mound, gave up three runs in the second inning to give the Bobcats an early advantage. Fleming Island had runners on base in the ensuing inning, but Buchholz pitcher Anthony Wilkie, a Clemson commit, finished with 10 strikeouts to control the game.
Against Bartram Trail, Fleming Island reversed the trend with seven runs in the first inning started with a three-run double from Abram Summers and a slew of walks.
For Oakleaf, with Cayden Robinson on the mound, Fleming Island scored in the fourth after Gavin Billingsley moved from first on a superb sacrifice bunt by B Abram and an Ander Chadwell RBI single. Billingsley returned that favor with his own sacrifice bunt to score Summers for the second run.
Robinson whiffed nine batters for Fleming Island who travel to Oakleaf on Wed., April 26 before ending their regular season at Bishop Kenny on April 27.