Solomon whiffs 11, Clay vs. Ponte Vedra (x4)

By Randy Lefko
Posted 5/16/18

JACKSONVILLE – Clay senior pitcher Conner Solomon punched out 11 strikeouts to lead the Blue Devils to a 5-1 region playoff win over Stanton Prep Tues., May 8.

“Conner Solomon’s performance …

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Solomon whiffs 11, Clay vs. Ponte Vedra (x4)

Posted

JACKSONVILLE – Clay senior pitcher Conner Solomon punched out 11 strikeouts to lead the Blue Devils to a 5-1 region playoff win over Stanton Prep Tues., May 8.

“Conner Solomon’s performance was impressive, but honestly it’s more of the same all year,” said Clay coach Josh Persinger, who guided the Blue Devils to the region final last year where Mosley won a 3-0 decision. “When Conner is on, he is a three-pitch pitcher and him and Gus Schlosser, former Atlanta Braves reliever and our pitching coach, work really well together. I stay out of their way and let them work.”

Clay (23-6) advances to play at Ponte Vedra (15-12) Tues., May 15 in the fourth meeting for the two schools.

“As far as Ponte Vedra, this will be our seventh matchup in two years,” said Persinger. “There aren’t a lot of secrets on either side. I see a heavyweight title match set for Tuesday. Last man standing earns a trip to the Panhandle for a shot at the Regional Title.”

Clay defeated Ponte Vedra twice in regular season play; 4-1 and 8-4, but the Sharks turned the tables with a 6-4 district championship win on May 3.

In the district title game with Solomon on the mound for six innings, Ponte Vedra built a 5-1 lead in the second inning with Clay pushing two in the fourth and one in the seventh in a comeback attempt that fell short.

“We showed fight in the district championship after their five-run second inning, but missed some opportunities,” said Persinger. “I said all along that Ponte Vedra would be a tough team due to their college-level pitching staff and major college commits they have peppered through the lineup. Regular season records are out the door and now it’s win or go home.”

In the other region 1-6A semifinal, West Florida (18-9) will host Mosley High (21-5). Mosley beat Clay 3-0 in last year’s region 1-6A final before losing to eventual 5A champion Archbishop McCarthy in the state semifinal.

Despite Solomon’s command from the mound, Stanton was able to hold a 1-1 tie with the Blue Devils with Stanton getting their lone run in the third off a single and error that put baserunners at second and third. A flyball deep to centerfield scored one run.

“We had a good approach against Stanton’s lefty,” said Persinger. “We squared some balls up early, but they just didn’t find the hole. I commend our guys for keeping with the plan and knocking on the door until it finally broke through.”

In the following inning, Solomon doubled after a ground out to Josh Lemen to set up a Andy Yarbrough single that scored Blake Parker from third, pinch baserunning for Solomon.

The score stuck at 1-1 until the fifth when a strikeout to Dylan Faulkner was followed by singles to Kevin Jackson and Nick Barrie and an intentional walk to purposely load the bases for the Stanton defense.

But, Lemen popped a perfect punt to the pitcher’s mound that scored Jackson in the midst of the infield chaos.

Solomon added one more run with a sacrifice fly to left field to score Barrie before Chase Holman doubled in Spence and Lemen.

From there, Solomon finished the game with seven of his 11 strikeouts in the final two and a half innings to end the game.

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