SJCD peaking; five homers, then three

By Mike Zima Correspondent
Posted 5/5/21

ORANGE PARK - If the Clay Electric Cooperative is searching for alternative sources of power, it need look no further than the baseball diamond at St. Johns Country Day School.

After mashing five …

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SJCD peaking; five homers, then three

Posted

ORANGE PARK - If the Clay Electric Cooperative is searching for alternative sources of power, it need look no further than the baseball diamond at St. Johns Country Day School.

After mashing five home runs their 18-0 thrashing of Eagle’s View in the District 3-2A semifinal on April 27, the Spartans hit three more in a 12-1 rout of visiting Jacksonville University Christian to capture the district championship on April 29.

SJCD scored eight runs in the fifth inning to prematurely end what had been a close game through the first four frames. Leading off the fifth, Jordan Taylor started the tsunami with a shot that landed well beyond the left field fence. Connor Moore put an exclamation point on the rally with a grand slam to deep center that invoked the run rule. Eight of the nine Spartans to bat in the inning scored.

Taylor’s drive was his fifth roundtripper of the season; Moore, like Taylor an FSU commitment, upped his team-leading total to nine.

“We do have a lot of power, but we are not pushing the home runs,” said SJCD coach Tom Lucas. “We feel like if we just hit the ball hard, good things will happen.”

Six of the SJCD’s 13 hits went for extra bases. Brad Hodges, who played left field until moving to the pitcher’s mound in the fifth, went three for three with two doubles and four runs batted in.

University Christian was much more competitive than they had been against the Spartans in 11-1 and 10-2 losses to SJCD earlier this season. The Christians took the lead in the first inning when freshman Seth Alford singled, moved to second base on a groundout, and scored on Nick Cates’s two-out single.

Meanwhile, starting pitcher Trent May kept the Spartans at bay. The Spartans’ scored their lone run in the first two innings when Mason Davis drove a hanging curve ball over the fence near the left field foul pole. When the first two Spartans hitters reached base in the third, Christians head coach John Sirmon lifted May in favor of freshman Austin Pickett. Tyce Moore greeted Pickett with a single to drive in a run. Two outs later, Hodges doubled to right, scoring Moore and Taylor to put SJCD ahead 4-1. University Christian right fielder Camden Harnage appeared to have a bead on the sinking liner, but tripped and fell as the ball bounced over his glove.

Junior Finn Howell pitched four strong innings for SJCD, allowing one run, striking out three and scattering five hits.

“He is a three-pitch pitcher,” Lucas said of Howell, a North Florida commit. “He mixes up pitches and pounds the strike zone.”

With only a three-run lead entering the fifth, Lucas brought in Hodges, a lefty with a 91 mile-per-hour fastball.

“He [UC coach Sirmon] had a good plan, changing pitchers every two innings,” said Lucas. “He had us on our toes, so I brought Hodges in to keep the score where it was.”

Hodges, a Virginia commit, struck out the side on 11 pitches.

The win was the ninth in a row for SJCD, which improved to 20-6. The Christians fell to 13-7.

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