Panthers can’t shake Clay win in district final

By Dennis Bergin Correspondent
Posted 5/15/19

PONTE VEDRA – As Ridgeview High head baseball coach John Sgromolo addressed his young team after a deflating 6-0 defeat, in the District 4-6A championship, to host Ponte Vedra he stressed the …

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Panthers can’t shake Clay win in district final

Posted

PONTE VEDRA – As Ridgeview High head baseball coach John Sgromolo addressed his young team after a deflating 6-0 defeat, in the District 4-6A championship, to host Ponte Vedra he stressed the importance of life lessons.

“We were riding high after our semifinal round win over Clay the other night and now we are feeling really low after falling in the championship game,” reflected Sgromolo, who secured his championship invite with a dramatic 11 inning 4-2 win over Clay just two nights prior. “We still get a second chance and competed for a state championship.”

The Panthers (13-11) will travel to face District 3-6A champion Paxon (18-5) on Wed., May 15. Paxon defeated Terry Parker 1-0 in nine innings. The Clay loss ends a streak of seven appearances in the region playoffs for the Blue Devils. Ridgeview’s last appearance was in 2016 with the Panthers beating Clay in the district final before losing in the region semifinals to Terry Parker. Parker beat Clay in that region opener.

In the Tues., May 7 win over Clay, with Wickeri controlling the vaunted Blue Devil batting lineup on the mound, Wickeri struck with his bat in the 11th inning with a two run double to push Ridgeview to the 4-2 win. Ridgeview finished with Logan Morris on the mound in relief. Wickeri finished with four strikeouts and just two hits in seven innings for Ridgeview. Clay started with Dylan Faulkner on the mound for four innings with five strikeouts as Ridgeview held a slim 2-0 lead from the first inning.

In the fifth, Clay scored one run off back to back errors and a steal of home plate by Colin Gross.

In the sixth, Clay got a double from Garrett Chun and a sacrifice fly from Chase Holman to tie the game.

Clay had a shot at the win in the eighth with Holman getting hit by pitch and advancing to second on an error, but Gross grounding out ending the inning.

Ridgeview got to second in the ninth with Morris reaching on an error then getting to second on a hit from Calvin Gunsaulus, but Max Williams grounded out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 10th inning, back to back doubles from Justin Mosley and Holman for Clay, put a gamewinner in play, but Mosley got tagged out at home plate off a throw from left fielder Max Williams.

In the 11th, Ridgeview got singles from Collin McFarland and Gunsaulus and a walk to Morris to set up Wickeri’s game winning double.

With Morris finishing the game, Clay got just a strikeout and two flyballs to end the game. Clay ends a streak of seven years into the region playoffs.

For Ridgeview, Ponte Vedra (12-10) senior left-hander Brody Maynard was dominate, throwing a complete game one-hitter, striking out just one and allowing three base runners and inducing 10 ground outs.

“He pitched a great game tonight, said Sgromolo. “He did a good job of controlling us and the pace of the game. He was able to throw his curve for first pitch strikes all night.”

Maynard, also did damage at the plate by going 2-3 with a two run double and a run scored while first baseman Tony Roca was 2-3 with and RBI double and a mammoth two run homer to left center to lead the Sharks.

The Panthers only hit on the evening came on a first inning single to left center from senior Evan Wickeri. Max Williams drew a leadoff walk in the top of the fourth inning but was stranded at second base when Maynard retired senior catcher Tony Roman on a com-backer to end the only threat of the game.

“We need to learn and adjust as a team,” said Sgromolo. “In playoff baseball the little things are amplified.”

Ridgeview starting pitcher Rich Long lasted four innings giving up four runs on five hits while walking two and striking out two to absorb the loss.

“We are the closest we have been all year long, “ said Sgromolo. “We need to learn and adjust better but in the end we can win these upcoming games.”

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