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Sonic Drive-In Player-of-the-Game for Thursday, April 29 – Zane Starling (Santa Fe)

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The Sonic Drive-In Player-of-the-Game for Thursday, April 29, was Zane Starling of the Santa Fe (Alachua) baseball team.

Starling, a sophomore, pitched 5.1 innings allowing only five hits and two earned runs with three strikeouts and no walks and also reached base three times, including an RBI double, as host Santa Fe rallied past Baker County (Glen St. Mary), 6-3, to win the District 2-4A title on Thursday night.

Santa Fe took the lead in the bottom of the first as Landon Rogers drove in Devante Mitchum with a sacrifice fly and the Raiders led 1-0.

But Baker County (13-15) struck for three runs against Starling in the top of the second.

Wildcats pitcher Cason Milton singled and Easton Stevens doubled to put runners on second and third with one out. And RBI groundout and two RBI singles by Tucker Kennedy and Jase Knabb gave Baker County a 3-1 lead.

Two of those three runs were earned, the first earned runs allowed by Starling this season.

“It’s tough on a young kid like that, when you give up three, sometimes you just kind of collapse,” said Santa Fe coach Travis Yeckring. “But he stood tall and came in the dugout and said, ‘they’re not getting anymore.’”

He settled down after that, and drove in a run with a double in the bottom of the 2nd to bring the Raiders within 3-2.

The score stayed that way until the bottom of the 5th, when Santa Fe tied the game 3-3 on a suicide squeeze by Landon Rogers.

The Raiders (23-2) finally took the lead for good in the bottom of the 6th thanks to some Baker County wildness.

JT Thornton was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded to give Santa Fe a 4-3 lead, then Ryan Brown scored on a wild pitch and Devante Mitchum drove in Dalton Dampier with a sacrifice fly to right field to extend the Raiders lead to 6-3 lead.

Conner Brown pitched the final 1 2/3 innings in relief of Starling to pick up the win, striking out three.

Santa Fe opens up play in the state playoffs next Thursday, May 5 against an opponent to be determined at home in Alachua. Baker County will hit the road for the first round of the 4A playoffs.

Every game The Prep Zone will recognize a Player-of-the-Game. The recipient receives a $10 gift certificate courtesy of Sonic Drive-In of Gainesville & Ocala.

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