GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The St. Johns Country Day School Spartans went to school to try and learn more about themselves as a team and how to gel better, but didn’t finish their preseason the way …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – The St. Johns Country Day School Spartans went to school to try and learn more about themselves as a team and how to gel better, but didn’t finish their preseason the way they wanted. After tying Creekside 3-3 the Tuesday evening at the Clay High Preseason Baseball Classic Feb. 13-14, the Spartans had reason to believe they would fare well against the Yulee Hornets in the Wednesday slate.
“We have a mix; we do have some older kids, three seniors, two juniors so we have half the team experienced, and the other half we have six eighth graders.” Said St. Johns Head Coach Tom Lucas. “They do have a lot of talent, but they have to gain the experience.”
That was until Yulee put a quick two runs on the board in the top of the first. The Spartans battled back with a run of their own in the bottom of the second, but a 4 run inning at the top of the third inning gave Yulee all the momentum they needed and the Spartans could do no more than add one more run in the game. Yulee scored two more runs before it was all over to take an 8-2 victory out of the preseason as St. Johns uses the last few days before the regular season to fix some issues.
“We don’t have a lot of depth, but the young guys weren’t scared,” said Lucas. “They made some mistakes not because they were scared, but due to inexperience.”
For the Spartans, Hunter Russell started the game on the mound, allowing two hits and two runs over two innings, striking out two and no walks. With two outs in the top of the first, the Spartans committed back-to-back errors to allow base runners, then runs score. After the two runs, the Hornets popped out to end the inning. After three up, three out for both teams, the Spartans found some mojo off a double by Troy Britts. Off a Tanner Zellem single, Britts advanced to third. Hunter Russell belted a ground ball to second base, allowing Britts to score for the Spartans.
In the top of the third, Brad Hodges came in to work the mound for the Spartans. After a single, walk, and another single, a strikeout finally put out number one on the board. Just when Hodges seemed to hit his groove, back-to-back walks put Yulee ahead 4-1. A line drive double pushed the score to 6-1. Lucas stayed with Hodges to close out the inning to get more experience.
“There is nothing we can do but keep putting them in those moments,” said Lucas. “It’s going to take experience so we’ll probably have to play a couple dozen games before they figure it out. The good thing about high school baseball is it doesn’t matter until districts.”
In the sixth with the score now 7-2 and time running out, St Johns needed something to happen. In the end, it was Yulee that could make one more thing happen as they added one more run for insurance as St. Johns went three up, three out in their last at bat.
For St. Johns, in relief, Jordan Taylor threw two innings, Brad Hodges- one inning, Troy Myers- one inning, and Finn Howell- one inning.
“We treated it like pre-season; we threw five guys today, we threw four yesterday, everybody got off the bench, that what this was all about; just kind of seeing who was going to blink when there were a lot of bullets and they did really good,” said Lucas. Tanner Zellem, Troy Britts, Jace Thomas, Jack Tolbert, and Hunter Russell each collected one Spartan hit. The Spartans open their regular season Tuesday night.