The Valdosta Daily Times
North Florida Christian has the No. 24 high school baseball team in the nation, according to Baseball America. On Friday night, the Eagles looked like it against the Valdosta Wildcats.
North Florida Christian defeated Valdosta 11-1 on Friday at Bazemore Field on the first day of the Georgia-Florida Challenge. The Wildcats kept the game close for four innings, but then NFC exploded for eight runs in the final two innings to pull away for the victory.
NFC sent its ace, junior left-hander Carson Sands, to the mound on Friday. Sands, who has verbally committed to Florida State, held Valdosta to one run and three hits in five innings and struck out 12 batters. He also hit a two-run home run in the fourth inning, which gave the Eagles a lead they would not relinquish.
Valdosta struck first, scoring a run in the first inning. David Posas drew a walk to start the inning, then Drew Morrison beat out a bunt single, putting two men on. Sands struck out the next two batters, but Daniel Tefft walked, loading the bases. Then Corey Jaramillo hit a ground ball that went just past a diving second baseman and into center field. Posas scored, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 lead.
Valdosta pitcher Kyle Wilkes shut out the Eagles for the first two innings, but North Florida Christian tied the score in the third. Jonathan Vickers walked to lead off the inning and was bunted to second. Matthew Railey followed with a double to left center, and Vickers ran home to tie the score at 1-1. The Eagles had runners on the corners with one out, but Wilkes fielded Jared Barnes' ground ball and threw to catcher Brennan Goodson, who tagged out Railey at home plate, preventing a run.
Sands broke the tie an inning later. With a runner on first and no outs, he crushed a pitch over the fence in right center for a two-run homer, giving the Eagles a 3-1 lead.
Then North Florida Christian exploded for four runs in the fifth and four more in the sixth.
In the top of the fifth, walks to Railey and Jared Barnes put two men on with one out. Then J.D. Huggins, the Eagles’ cleanup hitter, ripped a pitch into right field. The ball rolled into the corner, and Railey and Barnes came around to score. Huggins ended up on third with a triple. After a strikeout and an intentional walk to Sands, Sands got in a rundown between first and second. While Sands was in the rundown, Huggins ran home to score. Sands wound up on second when a VHS player threw the ball away, and scored on another error two batters later, giving the Eagles a 7-1 lead.
Leading off the top of the sixth, Railey drilled a fastball over the fence in right center for a solo home run. Five batters later, with the bases loaded and two outs, pinch hitter Gray Odom hit a two-run single, making it 10-1. Then Sands ran home on a wild pitch to extend the Eagles’ lead to 11-1.
Valdosta put eight runners on base in the first 2 1/3 innings against Sands. But after that, the Eagles’ star southpaw was dominant. The Wildcats had two runners on base with one out in the third, but Sands fanned the next two hitters to escape the jam. Then he struck out the side in the fourth and fanned two more hitters in the fifth.
Railey was 2 for 3 with two runs and two RBIs for NFC. Sands and Dulworth also drove in two runs. No Valdosta player had more than one hit.
Valdosta will travel to Taylor County (Fla.) on Tuesday.