GAINESVILLE - After the top of the fifth inning, the Clay Blue Devils had a good 5-0 lead over the host Santa Fe Raiders, looking to close out their region quarterfinal in the class 4A State …
GAINESVILLE - After the top of the fifth inning, the Clay Blue Devils had a good 5-0 lead over the host Santa Fe Raiders, looking to close out their region quarterfinal in the class 4A State Championships. The Raiders had other plans and showed they would not go quietly as they poured on four runs in the bottom of the fifth inning to pull withing one run. In the bottom of the seventh inning, the game tied and began the mid-week 10 inning marathon that almost didn’t end until the next day.
“Adversity. I get choked up. This was kind of what we were dealing with all year,” said Clay Blue Devils Head Coach Josh Persinger. “We were punched in the face all game. This is a testament to these guys. There were a few times the chips were down. I talked to these guys all week; see it. See victory. See success and what are you going to do when bad things happen? We changed the mindset.”
Seeing that way to win in the bottom of the seventh was Max Williams and Catcher Dylan Green. With the game on the line and all the chips on the table with two outs, when Raider’s Kyler Nowling singled into center field, from second base Santa Fe’s Matthew Geelhoed rounded third and headed home. Williams said not today as he fired a laser shot from center that was exactly were Green needed the ball placed. The catcher made the grab, defended the plate, and tagged out Geelhoed, keeping the score tied 5-5, sending the game into overtime as everyone checked one another for heart attacks.
In the eighth inning, the teams split two runs each, capped of with a Max Williams home run to deep left-center field and Josh Rouw crossing the plate off a Brady Greene line drive to left field. Both teams blanked the ninth inning to get us to the knockout punch.
The Blue Devils amassed five runs in the top of the 10th inning started off with a Williams double, followed by a Logan Wilson play that had the Raiders dazed and confused.
“My three-hole hitter comes up, and I tell him, do whatever you think helps us win the game,” said Persinger. “With a runner on second, my number three hitter goes up and bunts! Instead of swinging away, he bunts, and gets an RBI double out of it because he read just how worn down the other team was. Good things happen when you make good decisions.”
The rest of the 10 inning scoring saw Logan Wilson cross off a wild pitch, and Josh Rouw, Sean Alvers, and Tyler Mills get home off of a Alec Burke center field grounder that the Raiders misplayed to go up 12-7.
The Blue Devils held the Raiders to two runs to finally close the endurance contest 12-9 with the Blue Devils seeing 41 at bats, 12 hits to score the 12 runs with only eight walks. On Defense, Clay used four pitchers who piled up 16 strikeouts, only six walks, and gave up seven earned runs.
Blue Devils crossing the plate were Conner Chapman with 2, Max Williams had three runs, Logan Wilson added two, Josh Rouw added a pair, Sean Alvers with one, and Tyler Mills rounded out the scoring with a pair as well.
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