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Rouw’s thunderbomb wins Blue Devil finale

By Ray Dimonda Correspondent
Posted 5/4/23

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Clay High batter Joshua Rouw highlighted a thunder-filled night of cancelled baseball with his own eighth-inning thunder bomb; a walkoff two run blast that lifted the Blue Devils …

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Rouw’s thunderbomb wins Blue Devil finale


GREEN COVE SPRINGS - Clay High batter Joshua Rouw highlighted a thunder-filled night of cancelled baseball with his own eighth-inning thunder bomb; a walkoff two run blast that lifted the Blue Devils to a hard-fought 4-2 win over rival Keystone Heights High in both teams season finale.

“We played them in the beginning of the season, knew they are a really good team and we got into a dogfight with them tonight,” said Clay High Head Coach Josh Persinger. “I told the boys right before we went to bat, there is nothing that can get you ready for playoff baseball other than this. I’m a bunting man, it crossed my mind and I’m real glad I didn’t.”

The heavy rains that soaked most of the First Coast spared Green Cove Springs with just a passing shower and left the teams to add the thunder as Clay put up a quick run in the bottom of the first inning, and another in the bottom of the third to get out front 2-0. The Keystone Defense put the brakes on the Clay offense and needed until the fourth inning to break the scoring ice with run number one, and the second in the top of the sixth to tie the game, 2-2.

“This was a plus for us,” said Keystone Heights Head Coach Chris Roach. “This was a game where we thought we had a good chance to win in the end. If we can compete with these guys, we can compete with anybody, so for us it’s a plus heading into districts.”

With another storm quickly bearing down, deadlocked 2-2 at the end of the seventh inning, the game was turning into beat the clock as the eighth inning began. The Indians went three batters to the box and three outs, putting the game back into the Blue Devils hands. After a Chase Haggard walk to get the winning run on first base, it was Joshua Rouw who was the Clay sensation as he took the ball out of the park in left field for a two run walk off home run to end the game, 4-2.

As the Clay defense held off the top three Keystone batters, it was the Blue Devils to put the first point on the board on the bottom of the first inning after Aiden Hampton singled, followed up by Rouw going right up to the fence in left field to score Hampton, 1-0. The Indian defense stopped the bleeding with the single score and needed to even things up. For two more innings, that would not happen as the Clay defense led by the pitching of Elishia Roberts, three hits, one run, zero walks, and 10 strikeouts, seemed tighter than a vault.

In the bottom of the third, Clay loaded the bases with one out. Austin Szala took the second pitch and drove it right up to the left field fence where Noah Branch made the catch for Keystone, but allowed Sean Alvers to score, 2-0 Clay. The Indian defense stopped any further scoring and would need to find a way to finally get something going in the batter’s box.

Keystone’s Chase Packham singled on a tricky fly caught by the wind to safely get onboard. After one out, it was a Clay mistake to open the door for Keystone with a grounder that went off target on the throw to first base, allowing Packham to score, 2-1.

Austin Musgrove, six hits, two runs, two walks and six strikeouts, continued to hold the fort down from the pitcher’s mound as he went three up, three outs in the bottom of the fourth and fifth inning.

In the top of the sixth inning, Clay brought in Josh Rouw on the mound to relieve Roberts. With a quick two outs with one runner on base, it looked like Keystone may have to wait one more inning. That was until Chase Packham stole second, followed up with Austin Musgrove going into left field to score Packham, 2-2, where the score would stay through the end of regulation play.