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Slap Yo' Grandma! Raiders win! CHS, OHS, FIHS, KHHS, SJCDS alive

Randy Lefko
Sports Editor
Posted 5/9/24

ORANGE PARK - One long-time Orange Park High football announcer's favorite phrase often came when the Raiders did something special on the field and had Larry Scarbrough has been calling Thursday's …

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Slap Yo' Grandma! Raiders win! CHS, OHS, FIHS, KHHS, SJCDS alive


ORANGE PARK - One long-time Orange Park High football announcer's favorite phrase often came when the Raiders did something special on the field and had Larry Scarbrough has been calling Thursday's baseball district championship game against rival Clay High, he may have reiterated one of his signature phrases as the Raider baseball team shocked the Blue Devils with a 6-0 win.

After defeating Ridgeview 7-2 in a pseudo upset just days earlier in the district semifinal, the Raiders used a three-run third inning to propel themselves into the region playoff picture.
For the Raiders, the win over Clay has been since 1998, the district title has been and the winning record (14-13), the first region berth since 2001 under coach Bobby Link (lost to Mosley 3-0 in quarterfinals) and a state Final Four appearance since 1974 under coach Jim Garlington. Garlington's Raiders lost to eventual champion Tampa Catholic 3-1 in the Class 3A state semifinals.
Orange Park had a string of region appearances through the 1980s and 1990s under coaches John Chappell, Kevin DiPofi and Terry Knowles with Link getting a region bid in 2000 and 2001; losing both years to Mosley in the quarterfinals.
Orange Park rocked the Clay pitching staff; Rylan McMahan and Preston Lowrance for 11 hits including a third-inning solo homer by Aiden Devlin, an RBI double by Josh Taylor and a Devon Moore RBI single. Taylor was on the mound for Orange Park and fended off the Clay batting lineup with just five strikeouts, but more importantly, no walks on the seven-inning stanza.
For the rest of the county teams, exciting games in Tuesday's semifinals turned into a disaster on the Thursday night of finals with Oakleaf, Fleming Island, St. Johns Country Day School and Keystone Heights all falling in their district championship games.
Probably the most surprising if not shocking loss was a 2-1 loss in the District 2-2A final for St. Johns Country Day School.
St. Johns outhit the Flashes with seven hits; two by James Gilson and one to score a run, but the Spartans failed to pull off the win in the seventh inning with four men left on base and the Flashes executing a double play in defense.
For Oakleaf and Fleming Island, both in District 3-6A, the Golden Eagles got a day's wait to play in their district final against top-seed Buchholz, but the extra day did not help as the Bobcats won 6-0 with three runs in the third and two more in the fourth.
Fleming Island tallied two baserunners right off the bat with Josh Murray singling and Tanner Upton getting on base with an error with Chris Reali later singling, but two pop-outs and a tag out of Murray at home thwarted the early scoring opportunity.
Murray and Aaron Hawkins controlled the mound for Fleming Island to the third inning with Buchholz scoring off a two-run homer by junior Kai So. In the ensuing inning, So again did damage with a two-run single to up the Buchholz gap.
Fleming Island loaded the bases in the fourth with Murray doubling and a handful of walks, but a strikeout ended the threat.
In the district 3-6A semifinal, Oakleaf lost to Buchholz 7-3 but advanced all their strength of schedule finish with wins of St. Johns Country Day School and Trinity Christian Academy, both nationally ranked teams throughout the season.
In district 4-3A, Keystone Heights bombed away with back-to-back 12-0 playoff wins; over Taylor and P.K. Yonge, but got stymied to just three runs against Trinity Catholic in the final to lose a 5-3 final.
Trinity Catholic got up quickly with a three-run homer from pitcher Mekai Griffin in the third off Indians' pitcher Austin Musgrove. Griffin was the winning pitcher with 13 strikeouts.

Region Baseball Lineups
Region 1-2A ( Wed., May 8)
Top Bracket: No. 1 St. Johns Country Day School (20-6) hosts No. 8. St. Francis (14-9); No. 5 Oak Hall (13-5) at No. 4 University Christian (17-9)
Bottom Bracket: No. 7 St. John Paul II (12-10) at No. 2 North Florida Christian (17-6); No. 6 Christ's Church Academy (15-8) at No. 3 St. Joseph Academy (19-8)
2023: St. Johns beat North Florida Christian for the region title 10-5; St. Johns lost in Class 2A final to Lakeland Christian 5-2

Region 1-3A (Wed., May 8)
Top Bracket: No. 8 Keystone Heights (20-8) at No. 1 Pensacola Catholic (26-1); No. 5 Providence (13-11) at No. 4 Bishop Snyder (18-8)
Bottom Bracket: No. 7 Trinity Catholic (12-11) at No. 2 Trinity Christian Academy (21-6); No. 6 Episcopal (20-7) at No. 3 Bolles (19-8)
2023: Providence beat Trinity Catholic 4-3 for the region title.
Region 1-5A: Providence lost in the state semifinal 5-4 to eventual 4A champion Calvary Christian.

Region 1-5A (Tues., May 7)
Top Bracket: No. 8 Orange Park (14-13) at No. 1 Lincoln (15-11); No. 5 St. Augustine (15-10) at No. 4 Pensacola Escambia (20-7)
Bottom Bracket: No. 7 Beachside (15-13) at No. 2 Columbia (15-12); No. 6 Ponte Vedra (12-15) at No. 3 Clay (16-9)
2023: Clay lost to Columbia 7-1 in the region final. Columbia lost in state semifinal 5-2 to eventual 5A champion American Heritage.

Region 1-6A (Tues., May 7)
Top Bracket: No. 8 New Smyrna Beach (13-11) at No. 1 Buchholz (20-8); No. 5 Fleming Island (18-10) at No. 4 Pace (19-6)
Bottom Bracket: No. 7 Tocoi Creek (18-7) at No. 2 Chiles (18-8); No. 6 Oakleaf (17-9) at No. 3 Hagerty (18-8)
2023: Winter Springs beat Buchholz 10-8 for the region title. Winter Springs lost in state semifinal 2-0 to eventual 6A champion Tampa Sickles. Fleming Island lost 6-5 to Mosley in the region quarterfinal.