Oak Hall sweeps series against rival St. Francis

The Class 2A-District 4 baseball showdown between rivals St. Francis Catholic Academy and Oak Hall School was similar to the first meeting last month.

On March 7, the visiting Eagles only led 2-1 heading into the top of the fifth before exploding for nine runs in an 11-1 win in five innings.

On Wednesday, the visiting Wolves led 4-2 heading into the bottom of the third before the Eagles erupted for six runs in a 13-4 win to sweep the 2-game series.

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“It was a good district win tonight,” said Oak Hall baseball coach Kevin Maris. “When you can have a good city rivalry game and come out on top of it, it’s always a good night. It was against an outstanding St. Francis squad.”

In the top of the first, sophomore Jack Steen singled in a run on a 2-out infield hit for an early 1-0 St. Francis lead.

However, Oak Hall scored twice in the bottom of the first to take a 2-1 lead.

Sophomore Harrison Beach singled and scored on a fielder’s choice by sophomore Ethan Szlachetka. Sophomore Troy Freeman also drove in a run on a fielder’s choice for the Eagles.

St. Francis Catholic answered in the top of the second inning as the Wolves (7-6, 1-2) sent nine batters to the plate and scored three runs on three hits, a walk, and an error.

Sophomore Cooper Lieffers singled in a run, sophomore Darion Medley tripled in a run, and junior Mason Bell singled in a run to give St. Francis a 4-2 lead.

Oak Hall and Saint Francis baseball coaches

It stayed that way until the bottom of the third when Oak Hall batted around and scored six runs. There were also three errors in the inning.

The big blow was Jackson Beach’s double to left field with the bases loaded. The sophomore’s 3-RBI at-bat gave the Wolves an 8-4 lead.

“We started slow but found our stride in the third inning and never looked back,” Maris said.

The Eagles (6-2, 2-0) finished the game with 11 unanswered runs.

Neil Ruth also finished with 3 RBI, along with two hits and two runs scored for Oak Hall.

“Winning is hard,” said St. Francis Catholic coach Daniel Bell. “It takes consistency, resiliency, and effort. This has been the message to my guys, and we failed to live up to our standard today.”

St. Francis, like Oak Hall, is very young. The Eagles have no seniors while the Wolves only have one one senior with significant playing time.

Oak Hall will travel to Countryside Christian (Gainesville) on Friday at 4 p.m., while St. Francis will host Peniel Baptist Academy (Palatka) on Friday at 4:30 p.m. Both are district games.

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