By Lori Jones
Special to the Pioneer
The Red Devil Baseball team wrapped up its District 5- Class 4A Tournament last Thursday night in Keystone Heights, by bringing home the hardware for the first time since 2009.
At times during the tournament, it wasn’t pretty, but in the end, strong pitching, timely bats and good defense got the job done.
Williston’s first game was on Tuesday night where they faced Ft. White, who split regular season wins with them this year. As anticipated, it was a hard fought dual between the pitchers, with the Red Devils ultimately winning 1-0.
Justin Baker was strong on the mound recording five strikeouts. Ft. White’s first batter hit a single, but was thrown out trying to steal second base by senior catcher Bradley Jones. That would be the only hit of the night for the Indians.
Williston’s bats weren’t any hotter and it would be the fifth inning before Max White singled, but was left stranded on base as the inning ended.
Williston’s only run was scored on an error. Senior Covin Terrell was walked early in the fifth inning. He broke to steal second base and after a wide throw and another miscue, Terrell quickly scampered home for the score.
White was brought in to close the game on the mound and added 3 more strikeouts in a little over an inning.
First year Coach Scott Hall said “Fort White has a good team that had beaten us once already this year. Those games could go either way. I’m proud of how hard the boys played even when we couldn’t buy a hit.
Earlier in the evening the Santa Fe Raiders had defeated the Bradford County Hurricanes setting up a Williston-Santa Fe rematch for the Championship game on Thursday night.
WHS-v-Santa Fe The Championship Game was eagerly anticipated by both teams.
The Red Devils had defeated Santa Fe twice during regular season play and they were eager for a win. Santa Fe had the Devils’ number in the previous two seasons and the boys were eager to beat Santa Fe for a 3rd time this year.
Connor Clayton started out on the mound for Williston and would pitch three innings for the Red Devils. Freshman Trent Johnson played strong at short stop and recorded three outs in the first two innings. On offense, Christian Morris scored his 10th home run of the year in the bottom of the first, drawing first blood. The Raiders would come right back in the top of the 2nd inning with a solo homer to tie the game at 1. Max White hit one over the right field wall in the top of the 3rd and the Red Devils lead the game 2-1. Not to be outdone, the Raiders homered again in the top of the 4th and the game was tied at 2-2. The crowd was excited as the game had become a slug fest of homers. The Raiders would then get a single, a hit batter, and another single to load the bases. The next batter hit a fly ball to deep right field where Covin Terrell made the catch for out one, and with the runner on 3rd tagging to run home, Terrell threw a smoker straight to the plate, arriving just in time for a collision between runner and the catcher, Jones. Jones held on for out 2 of the inning. The Raiders would go on to score 2 more that inning and the Red Devils opened the bottom of the 4th down 4-2. Williston had a 2 out rally when Connor Clayton singled, Jared Caswell took a walk, and Terrell singled setting up loaded bases for White, who didn’t disappoint, hitting a single which scored 2. Austin Etheridge was hit by a pitch, Morris would single, scoring 2, and Jones would hit a double down the 1st baseline, scoring another run, and the inning was retired with the score, WHS 7, Santa Fe 4. Freshman Cody Head pitched for the Red Devils and got the win, and Max White closed it down in the last inning and Williston held on to win its first District Championship since these seniors were in 9th grade. Up Next:Williston will host the Mount Dora Hurricanes in a Regional game this Thursday night, May 3rd, at 7 p.m. “Mount Dora is a good team” according to Coach Hall. “They have a lefty pitcher who struck out 17 batters in one game. My job is to have our boys excited and ready to play.” Admission is $7, the amount set by the FHSAA, and full concessions will be offered. Fans are encouraged to attend and to wear RED to show their support.