Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Orange Park, Clay Score Big Victories

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Orange Park, Clay Score Big Victories

Article excerpt

Byline: Stephen Kindland, Clay County Line sports writer

Clay and Orange Park high schools managed to squeeze in a few baseball games between rain showers this week, and coaches for both teams are glad they did -- not to mention two players in particular.

Each school won a pair of games Tuesday. Orange Park notched a huge upset over No. 1-ranked Class 3A St. Augustine 10-5 behind a sparkling pitching performance and one-man offensive show by Jon Dandridge. Meanwhile, Clay avenged a season-opening loss to Palatka by taking a 5-3 win at home with the help of pitcher Will Smeltzer's 15 strikeouts.

Monday also was productive for both teams. Senior Mike McAllister's seventh home run of the year helped lead Clay over Ed White 11-4, and Adam Alexander smacked three hits to lift Orange Park over host Middleburg 2-0.

Orange Park's 6 p.m. game against St. Augustine didn't start until 8:45 because of intermittent rain, but Raider head coach Tim Alexander didn't mind the delay after watching Dandridge limit the Yellow Jackets (15-2) to just three hits while knocking in eight runs on three home runs and a sacrifice fly.

"I read in the paper that they were ranked No. 1 in [class] 3A, but I was pretty confident we could hold our own against them," the 6-foot-5, 220-pound senior said. "Everyone played good defense; it was definitely a team effort."

Alexander said he was relieved that his team finally got its due.

"He just had a tremendous night," Alexander said of Dandridge, who is heading to Mercer University this fall on a baseball scholarship. "That was his best pitching outing. It was one of the most exciting wins I've had since I've been in high school baseball."

Alexander, in his second year as head coach and eighth year overall, got to see his son, Adam, contribute to the Raiders' big win as well. Alexander scored twice after hitting a single and double.

Alexander also helped lead Orange Park over Middleburg, stroking three hits to help pitcher Scott Dye (2-4) earn the win. Dye surrendered five hits, including a double by Gary Barnidge, for 2-14 Middleburg.

"The rain cleared and we finally got some wins," the older Alexander said. …

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