Regional loss was a disappointment

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By Jim Clark

The regional loss by the Williston baseball team was a disappointment.

Keystone Heights, led by a three-run homer by Colton Crews, defeated Williston, 12-11, Friday night in the Class 3A, Region 2 semifinal, ending the Devils' season.

All 12 Indians' runs were unearned, including the home run, which came after two out in an inning that had been prolonged by an error.

Relief pitcher Kyle Cravey gave up only one hit over the last four innings as Keystone came back from an 11-5 deficit. Williston had its chances, though, as walked three and hit two in the final two frames.

Williston got six runs in the second on seven hits, including consecutive doubles by Brent Stegall and Chris Morrow, and consecutive singles by Carl Gilley, Tyrie Boyer, Danny Etheridge, Trip Fugate and Stegall, his second hit of the inning. It could have been worse, but Keystone pulled off a bases-loaded pitcher-catcher-first double play in the frame.

Five more runs scored in the third as Charlie Hilton, Brandon Scott, Boyer had singles, Fugate had a double and Stegall had his third straight hit.

But, except for a single by Boyer in the seventh, that was the extent of the hitting for the Devils.

"We scored enough to win," said coach Jim Smith. "But you can't play defense like that against a good team."

Keystone will play host to the "super regional" Friday against Trinity Catholic.

That's what I was waiting to see the new regional format. The FHSAA changed the baseball playoffs by making the regional finals a best-of-three series. Two games are played on Friday, and a third game, if necessary, on Saturday afternoon.

The NCAA has been doing this for some years now, and it's about time the high schools caught up.

For too long, there have been teams making the state finals, where they have to play two games in two days, with just one pitcher of finals caliber. After that guy pitches the state opener, the team is dead.

This system assures that the teams that reach the finals are capable of winning two games in two days, making for a much better tournament in Sarasota.

That's why I felt that a Trinity Catholic vs. Williston super regional would have been real exciting. Unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.

Obviously, predictions in high school sports are not worth much, but I don't think Keystone Heights can stay with Trinity Catholic at all (that was probably a kiss of death for Trinity).

The next thing the state needs to work on is the long layover between games. With the regional semifinals last Friday, the regional finals this weekend and the state tournament not until late next week (even worse for Class 3A, it's the following Monday and Tuesday), the playoff season drags out, and for all the baseball players who play football it means missing most of spring practice if your team goes all the way.

But for now, this is what we have. The team I'm rooting for is a team in Class 4A that I used to cover, Palatka High School. If the Panthers make it to state, the games will be next weekend and I'll be able to see them play.

I'm not, however, going out of my way to see either Trinity Catholic or Keystone Heights.

Jim Clark is the editor of the Williston Pioneer Sun News. He can be reached at editor@willistonpioneer.com or at 528-3343.