Four area baseball teams ranked in final regional top 20

Baseball on dirt infield
Mick Haupt/Unsplash

The St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park) Spartans had come close to winning the Class 2A state baseball title, losing two of the last three years in the championship game. 

But in 2024, the Spartans were back playing for the state title. This time they took care of business in thrilling fashion. 

St. Johns Country Day (25-6) defeated North Florida Christian (Tallahassee), 8-6, on a walk-off in the Region 1-2A Final, then walked off against Northside Christian (St. Petersburg), 5-4, in the state semifinal game at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. 

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Then, just for fun, the Spartans walked off again for the state title, edging Miami Christian, 4-3, for their first baseball state title. The championship earned St. Johns Country Day eight of the nine first-place votes to finish as the No. 1 team in the final Prep Zone Baseball Power Poll for 2024. 

St. Johns Country Day, who was ranked second in the previous poll taken before the regional playoffs, passed Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) for the top spot. The Conquerors (24-7) were ranked No. 1 most of the season but dropped to No. 2 after losing to Westminster Christian (Miami), 6-4, in the 3A state semifinals in Fort Myers. Trinity Christian received the other first-place vote. 

Buchholz, the 6A state runner-up, finished at No. 3. The Bobcats (24-9) earned their first state semifinal trip by beating New Smyrna Beach, Pace, and Hagerty (Oviedo) at home to win Region 1-6A. Buchholz pounded Bloomingdale (Valrico), 12-0, in the state semifinals in Fort Myers but allowed 14 hits and dropped the state title game,10-3, to Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens). Still, it was an historic season for Buchholz. 

Finishing fourth is Bolles (Jacksonville). The Bulldogs (21-8) lost in the Region 1-3A semifinal, 6-4, at Trinity Christian. 

Rounding out the top five is 1A state semifinalist Lafayette (Mayo). The Hornets (23-3) defeated Madison County, 1-0, and RV (receiving votes) Union County (Lake Butler), 4-0, to advance to the 1A state semifinals. The Hornets were eliminated by eventual 1A state champion Jay, 4-2, in Fort Myers. 

Spruce Creek (Port Orange) leads off the second five, followed by Creekside (St. Johns), Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville), Newberry, and Clay (Green Cove Springs). 

Creekside was knocked off in a 7A region final, and Newberry was upset, 4-3, in the Region 4-1A Final by Trenton. Clay was beaten by Lincoln (Tallahassee) in a 5A region final. 

Spruce Creek and Bishop Kenny lost in the second round of the 7A and 4A playoffs, respectively. 

Among the second 10 is No. 16 Columbia (Lake City) and No. 17T Trenton, who moved into the rankings for the first time this season. 

Despite only finishing with a 13-12 record, Trenton won at Chiefland and Newberry to win Region 4-1A. The Tigers advanced to Fort Myers but were beaten by eventual state runner-up Bozeman (Panama City), 10-0.

Other schools in the Mainstreet Daily News area that end up receiving votes are Keystone Heights, Union County and Oak Hall (Gainesville). 

Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville), who was receiving votes previously, moved all the way to No. 11 after advancing to the Region 1-3A Final, where they were eliminated, 8-6, by Trinity Christian. 

Hernando (Brooksville) also moved into the poll as the Leopards (19-10) are tied for 19th with Montverde Academy. Hernando advanced to the Region 2-4A Final, losing at Merritt Island. 

Dropping out from the previous poll were Forest (Ocala), Providence (Jacksonville) and Episcopal (Jacksonville). 

The Prep Zone Power Poll ranks the top 20 high school football, girls volleyball, girls basketball, boys basketball, softball & baseball teams (regardless of FHSAA classification) across 26 counties in North Florida (Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Citrus, Clay, Columbia, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Hernando, Jefferson, Lafayette, Lake, Levy, Madison, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, Sumter, St. Johns, Suwannee, Taylor, Union & Volusia counties). It is voted on bi-weekly by sportswriters and sportscasters and it is powered by Anytime Fitness of Gainesville.

THE PREP ZONE POWER POLL– 2024 BASEBALL POLL #5 (FINAL POLL)

(School, followed by classification, first place votes, final 2024 record, and total voting points)

Teams in bold are in the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area

1. St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park) (2A) (8) (25-6) – 179

2. Trinity Christian (Jacksonville) (3A) (1) (24-7) – 170

3. Buchholz (Gainesville) (6A) (24-9) – 164

4. Bolles (Jacksonville) (3A) (21-8) – 139

5. Lafayette (Mayo) (1A) (23-3) – 128

6. Spruce Creek (Port Orange) (7A) (19-10) – 120

7. Creekside (St. Johns) (7A) (19-11) – 114

8. Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) (4A) (20-9) – 108

9. Newberry (1A) (22-6) – 105

10. Clay (Green Cove Springs) (5A) (18-10) – 87

11. Bishop Snyder (Jacksonville) (3A) (20-9) – 79

12. Nature Coast Tech (Brooksville) (4A) (19-7) – 71

13. St. Joseph’s Academy (St. Augustine) (2A) (20-9) – 61

14. Lake Minneola (Minneola) (6A) (21-6) – 47

15. Mount Dora Christian Academy (2A) (20-9) – 38

16. Columbia (Lake City) (5A) (15-13) – 33

17T. Tocoi Creek (St. Augustine) (6A) (18-8) – 30

17T. Trenton (1A) (13-12) – 30

19T. Hernando (Brooksville) (4A) (19-10) – 22

19T. Montverde Academy (3A) (14-10) – 22

Also receiving votes: 

Episcopal (Jacksonville) (3A) (19-9) – 20; Fleming Island (Orange Park) (6A) (18-11) – 18; University Christian (Jacksonville) (2A) (18-10) – 18; Forest (Ocala) (6A) (17-9) – 17; Keystone Heights (3A) (20-9) – 12; Umatilla (3A) (19-9) – 10; Bartram Trail (St. Johns) (6A) (16-12) – 9; Oakleaf (Orange Park) (6A) (17-10) – 8; Englewood (Jacksonville) (5A) (15-10) – 7; Beachside (St. Johns) (5A) (16-14) – 6; The Villages (4A) (17-12) – 6; Baker County (Glen St. Mary) (4A) (16-13) – 4; Providence (Jacksonville) (3A) (13-12) – 4; Union County (Lake Butler) (1A) (15-14) – 2; Oak Hall (Gainesville) (2A) (13-6) – 1; Vanguard (Ocala) (5A) (18-10) – 1.  

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