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WMS reaches championship game

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By Jim Clark

Helped by a series of Chiefland mistakes, the Williston Middle School Red Devils came from behind Tuesday to win their baseball division of the Suwannee Middle Athletic Conference, 8-5, over the visiting Braves.

Williston was scheduled to play in Lake Butler Thursday for the conference title.

Trailing 5-4, the Devils entered the bottom of the fifth with the top of the order coming to the plate, the part of the lineup that had been doing damage all afternoon.

Kevin Sketo started by striking out, but sprinted to first when the ball got past the catcher. He then stole second and almost got trapped off when Austin Etheridge lined hard to second. The Chiefland fielder, however, tried to beat Sketo back to the bag instead of throwing it, and he was called safe, much to the displeasure of the visitors.

Max White then lined one to center that Kaleb Caplin dove for and couldn't come up with, and by the time the ball got back to the infield White was on third with an RBI triple.

Justin Baker hit a ground single into left that easily scored White with the go-ahead run. After a fly out, Damian Strange was safe at first when the third baseman booted his grounder.

The ball went to shortstop Travis Wain who made a nice play but Strange beat it out.

Baker and Strange then advanced on two wild pitches, with Baker scoring, and then T.J. Jackson's grounder to short was misplayed for an error that allowed the final run to score.

Williston picked up two runs in the first. Etheridge singled and stole second, took third on an error on Baker's grounder, and then both scored when Bradley Jones double deep to left.

In the third Etheridge singled and had the second of his three stolen bases. White followed with a long shot to deep right that he turned into a home run.

The only other Williston hits were a single behind third by Dylan Blalock in the fourth, and a bouncer off the first baseman by White in the sixth, who would have been safe anyway because no one covered the bag in time.

Chiefland looked early as if the Braves would make a game of it. In the top of the first Caplin singled and was forced at second by Tim Reidy, who was balked to second. Alden Davis singled the runner to third, then stole second. Reidy came home on a wild pitch and when Davis tried to go to third, the throw got away and he scored also.

In the fourth Aaron Beauchamp singled, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a single up the middle by Deric Allen.

Two more runs in the top of the fifth gave the visitors a short-lived lead. Davis singled, and Kody Plemmons hit a bouncer to first that was thrown away, putting runners on second and third. Wain executed a perfect suicide squeeze with Davis scoring, and then Beauchamp singled to drive in the final Chiefland run.

The only other hit was a single by Reidy in the seventh, but he was left stranded as White, pitching in relief for the final inning, closed the game with a bouncer to himself followed by two strikeouts. Baker started and pitched into the fourth, and Etheridge got the win with strong relief until the seventh.

Allen started for Chiefland and was relieved by Plemmons.

Previous middle school baseball games:

March 5:_Williston 7, Chiefland 1

Austin Etheridge pitched, striking out six. Kevin Sketo, Etheridge, Max White, Bradley Jones, Justin Forsythe, Damain Strange, Dylan Blalock, T.J. Jackson and Jarred Caswell each had one single. Baker hit two singles. Bradley Jones had one RBI.

March 6:_Williston 7, Bradford 0

Max White pitched a no-hitter, striking out 10.

White had two singles, Baker had a single and a double, Dillion Moody had a single, Caswell had a single and Kenny Cowart had a single.

March 13:_Williston 7, Lake Butler 1.

Pitching was shared by Baker, Etheridge and White. Baker had three strikeouts, Etheridge had three strikeouts and White had six strikeouts.

White had a triple and two singles, Baker had a single, Jones had two singles, Strange added one single.

March 19:_Williston 8, Bradford 3.

Pitching was shared by White and Etheridge.

Etheridge went 3-for-4 with a double, White had a single and a double, Jones had a triple and two singles and Baker had a single.

March 20:_Williston 20, Ruth Rains 1.

Bradley Jones pitched for the Devils ending the game in only 3 innings.

Hitters included Etheridge had two triples and a single, White had two singles and a double, Jackson had three singles, and Sketo, Jones, Strange and Forsythe each had a hit.