North-Central Florida High School Baseball
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Clay Squeezes Past Keystone Heights In Season Opener

The Clay Blue Devils were on the road to kick off the 2017 season against the Keystone Heights Indians on Tuesday. A sacrifice bunt from Ken Burke brought home Cole Escher for the go-ahead run in the seventh and the Blue Devils held on to win, defeating the Indians 3-2.

Each team scored two runs in the third inning and it remained tied until the top half of the seventh.

With the game tied at two, entering the seventh inning, the Blue Devils led the inning off with back-to-back singles from Lemen and Escher. After a strikeout of the next batter, Ken Burke executed a sacrifice bunt down the first-base line to score Escher from third for the go-ahead run. With the game on the line, Yarbrough faced just four batters and needed just 10 pitches to close out the game and pick up the win for himself and the Blue Devils.

Cole Escher scored the first run of the game for the Blue Devils (1-0) in the top of the first inning after stealing second and then being brought home on a single passed the infield by Josh Lemen. A triple during the next at-bat from Tyler Spence scored Lemen to give the Blue Devils a 2-0 advantage.

The Indians (0-1) responded quickly when Stevie Rodriguez led off the bottom of the first with a double to right field. Two batters later, Rodriguez cut the lead in half on a Pierson Lewis single. Conner Osteen tagged and scored the tying run on a Gage Hall sac-fly to deep-center field. Those were the last runs scored by the Indians, due in the large part to the Blue Devils pitching.

After Blue Devils starter Conner Solomon went the first three innings, Andy Yarbrough came in and stymied the Indians for four innings. The Indians had no answer for Yarbrough, who struck out three batters and walked none on 51 pitches. Yarbrough and Solomon combined to strike out six batters on the night.

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