ORANGE PARK – St. Johns Country Day Spartans baseball got a rude visit from North Florida Christian baseball when the visiting team knocked out two first inning homers en route to an 11-1 region …
ORANGE PARK – St. Johns Country Day Spartans baseball got a rude visit from North Florida Christian baseball when the visiting team knocked out two first inning homers en route to an 11-1 region 1-3A championship Friday night at the St. Johns campus.
“We told our guys, if you miss, this team’s really going to make you pay. That’s any mistakes” said St. Johns Head Coach Tom Lucas, who finished off one of the more prolific seasons in Spartan history. “We made some mistakes and they capitalized. Other teams we played, you could pitch and miss a spot and it doesn’t get hit like that. It’s a tough lesson to learn.”
With only one out, a pair of singles had two Eagle runners on when again, the ball skyrocketed over the center field fence putting the Spartans in a 4-0 hole before they could even have a chance to bat.
The Eagles hit three homers total in the 11-1 game that ended in the sixth inning.
Lucas started Brad Hodges started on the mound for St. Johns and found out in two pitches, what he couldn’t throw across the plate. North Florida, multi-time state champions, took advantage early and continued to press all game.
“That’s the number one team in the state, lost the state title last year, and they are loaded with five D-1 signees and eight seniors,” said Lucas. “They came out and punched us in the mouth, and I don’t know if we ever recovered from the four (runs) we spotted them in the first inning.”
The Spartans cycled Jordan Taylor and Jace Thomas on the mound behind Hodges, but no one had the secret sauce needed to slow down the head of steam built early by the Eagles. St. Johns did not commit a single error on the evening. It was just great Eagles baseball, placing the ball extremely well, and using every opportunity to put points on the board. The Spartans seemed to slow the Eagles early and get in the game, but to no avail, scoring only a single run in the bottom of the fourth inning.
Down 6-1 at the end of the fourth, the Eagles came right back in the fifth with a single, and a pair of walks loading the bases. St. Johns tried a pitching change, yet still walked in three runs, 9-1. The Eagles added two more with a bases loaded walk, and an RBI single in the top of the 6th. In the bottom of the inning, St. Johns could do no better than two runners on before North Florida slammed the door on the Spartans season, 11-1.
The Spartans will only lose two seniors after the season and are poised to attack once again for 2020.
“We told them this is just the start,” said Lucas. “Five years ago, in my first year, we didn’t win a District game. In year five, we won a District title, and our first playoff game in 21 years, with really young players. We have a lot of young talent, so we’ll get in this next year or the year after, and we’ll win one of these things and get to a final four. I’m really confident.”