Ryan Brown’s 3-hitter sends Santa Fe to district championship game

The dream season continues for the Santa Fe baseball team.

Behind senior pitcher Ryan Brown’s 3-hit shutout, the Raiders advanced to the Class 4A-District 2 title game with a 2-0 win against Suwannee (Live Oak) in Alachua on Tuesday night.

Santa Fe (22-2), which set the regular season school record for winning percentage, also clinched a spot in next week’s FHSAA state playoffs.

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It was the third time this season that the Raiders defeated Suwannee (19-6), which is ranked third in the state in 4A.

“I’m just proud of this club,” said Santa Fe coach Travis Yeckring. “We just keep finding ways to win games.”

Brown struck out eight and only walked one in improving to 10-0. He lowered his earned run average to 0.22.

“I just kept throwing strikes,” he said. “My defense saves my life sometimes because I’m a contact hitter, I’m not really a strikeout guy, so when my defense is making plays, I’m making plays. I’m happy with it.”

Brown had at least one strikeout in every inning and only allowed two runners in scoring position.

“If there is one guy in the state that I could have on the mound it would be Ryan Brown,” Yeckring said. “He doesn’t throw the hardest but he’s going to compete and throw a bunch of strikes.”

Santa Fe, which is ranked second in the state in Class 4A by MaxPreps, scored the only runs it would need in the bottom of the 4th inning.

Junior Landon Rogers led off with a walk and scored on a double down the left field line by senior John Rechsteiner for a 1-0 lead.

“He’s one of the hardest workers on the team,” Yeckring said of his first baseman. “Not only that, he had a big pick in the seventh inning. Our shortstop threw one low and he picked it for him.”

Brown gave himself some insurance with a sacrifice fly to left field, scoring Rechsteiner for a 2-0 lead after four innings.

“We feel like if we get two or three runs it’s enough for us,” said Yeckring.

Yeckring said that while the win takes some pressure off knowing Santa Fe is in the state playoffs, they still have one game left.

“Thursday is icing on the cake now, but we want to win a district championship,” he said. “We’re going to approach it like it’s do or die because these kids have worked hard, and I want them to get a district title.”

The path to a district title became a little easier when No. 4 seed Baker County (Glen St. Mary) upset Clay (Green Cove Springs), 3-1, in the other semifinal. Clay was ranked No. 1 in the state.

Instead of travelling, Santa Fe will now host Thursday’s district championship game. The first pitch is at 7 p.m.

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