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Spartans crowned STATE CHAMPIONS!

St. Johns Country Day beats Miami Christian 4-3 in Class 2A state finale

By Randy Lefko randy@claytodayonline.com
Posted 5/22/24

In a Class 2A state baseball tournament of clutch hits and game-saving defensive plays, St. Johns Country Day School beat Miami Christian, 4-3, in the eighth inning Wednesday afternoon when the ball …

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Spartans crowned STATE CHAMPIONS!

St. Johns Country Day beats Miami Christian 4-3 in Class 2A state finale


Posted

In a Class 2A state baseball tournament of clutch hits and game-saving defensive plays, St. Johns Country Day School beat Miami Christian, 4-3, in the eighth inning Wednesday afternoon when the ball got past Victors catcher on a swinging strikeout.

The victory at Fort Myers’ Lee Health Sports Complex was the first state championship for the Spartans.

Country Day ran a gamut of big hits in the third inning to take a 3-0 lead against Miami Christian, then got a superb lineout at third base by Seth Alford, who quickly doubled up the runner at first base to end the sixth inning to end a scoring threat by the Victors, who were competing for their fifth state title.
In the bottom of the eighth, Hunter Rodgers’ sacrifice bunt moved Spartans runners into scoring position. Gabriel Gilliand then struck out swinging, but the third strike got past the catcher, which allowed pinch runner Conner O’Steen to score the winning run.

St. Johns senior Seth Alford was named Tournament MVP.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, with the game tied by Miami Christian in the top of the seventh, 3-3, the Spartans’ batting order featured the one guy who had won both games into the championship game: George Gilson, who was second up behind Kolt Myers and in front of Alford.
Myers popped out, but Gilson kept life with an opportunistic first base run on a dropped third strike to set Alford up as the hero. Gildon was relieved on base with Collin Briggs to run but got out on a grounder by Alford, beat out a double play attempt, sprinting to first base safely.
Alford got to third on an errant throw from the catcher to second on a steal attempt. Alford alertly got up and sprinted safely to third.
Kody Daneault struck out looking to end the seventh inning heroics put the game into extra innings.
Freshman pitcher Gavin Coffey, a sidewinding pitcher, came to the mound with Bradley apparently unable to continue after warmups.
With Coffey dispensing of the Miami batting lineup with three fly balls around a walk, the Spartans, in the bottom of the eighth inning, had their shot with a wild pitch with TJ Sunderhaus at third, but the Victors made the play at home plate to tag Sunderhaus out.
Gilliand took the plate with runners at second (Preston Cole) and third (O’Steen), and just one out, with Boylston behind Gilliand.
Coffey was the winning pitcher for the Spartans.
The Spartans, under 10-year coach Tom Lucas, who has put the Spartans into three state championship games in the last four years, finally got their rings behind strong early pitching from junior Austin Stratman and relief from Trevor Bradley as Miami Christian continued to put baserunners in play in the latter innings.
In the decisive third inning, with the score at 0-0, Gabriel Gilliand smacked a hard line drive that deflected off the glove of the Miami third baseman and was followed by a grounder to Kyle Boylston that took Gilliand out at second base.
After Boylston stole second, Kolt Myers ripped a line drive to center field to score Boylston, who sprinted through an apparent stop at third base to get to home plate.
George Gilson, who has been the late-inning hero for the Spartans in the last two games, walked before Alford delivered a two-run single to left field to put three runs on the board for St. Johns.
Miami Christian was quick to put runs on the board, tagging Stratman with two singles and a walk, but only getting one run after a flyball and grounder ended the inning.
In their final at-bats, Miami Christian got two singles off Bradley and a sacrifice bunt in front of catcher Hunter Rodgers to put runners in play again for the Victors.
With one out and two baserunners, Miami Christian batter Willie Mendez singled to right field to put a run on the scoreboard, 3-2, with Nick Bowden throwing a laser to Rodgers to halt Kevin Bruno at third. Mendez stole second base.
With Miami Christian’s Ronny Cruz hitting a high fly to centerfield, Boylston’s throw to home was way off, and the Victors got the tying run across home plate with two outs and a baserunner at second base.
Bradley got a fly ball to end the inning and put the Spartans having to bat one more time, again, for a state title in a potential walk-off fashion.