P.K. Yonge earns berth in the regional semifinals


P.K. Yonge pitcher Fletcher Simmons throws against The Master’s Academy on Thursday.

Brad McClenny/Staff photographer
Published: Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 3, 2013 at 12:13 a.m.

It certainly wasn’t baseball weather Thursday night, but somehow, unlike most of the other state playoff games scheduled in the area, P.K. Yonge and Oviedo The Master’s Academy were able to squeeze in their Class 3A regional quarterfinal before the rain, which drizzled for much of the night, took over.

And though there weren’t a lot of hits — four by each team — the host Blue Wave found other ways to score, taking advantage of nine walks and two balks with 12 stolen bases, including one of home plate.

They also had Fletcher Simmons on the mound.

Simmons won his 10th game in 11 starts, striking out 10, and James Lightner and Alex Aldridge, the No. 8 and No. 9 hitters, each had a pair of hits in P.K. Yonge’s 4-1 win over the Eagles.

With the victory, the Blue Wave (16-12) advance to Tuesday’s regional semifinals, against either Daytona Beach Father Lopez or St. Johns Country Day, whose game was postponed Thursday because of rain. Should Lopez win on Saturday, it would host P.K. Yonge, which would host the next round if Country Day wins.

“This was horrible baseball weather, steady rain through most of the night, and he battled through it,” Brian Simmons said of his son, Fletcher. “He didn’t necessarily have his best stuff, but it was a difficult night to do anything, especially pitch. The ball was wet the whole time. I thought he battled through a difficult situation.”

Leading only 2-1 after Master’s Academy (16-13) scored its only run in the fifth inning, the Blue Wave padded their edge with two runs in the sixth, courtesy of Lightner and Akridge. Lightner, who singled to right, stole second, stole third and scored when the catcher’s pick-off throw sailed over the third baseman. Akridge, who reached on a walk, stole second, stole third and stole home.

“We have been running all year,” Simmons said. “We like to run and everyone can steal. Sometimes that is the only way we can score runs. Alex look at me and said, ‘Coach, the pitcher is in the windup,’ and I just nodded at him. As soon as he took off, I tried to get Collin (McFarland) not to swing, but he swung anyway. It was kind of an impromptu thing.”

P.K. Yonge got its first run in the opening inning when leadoff hitter D’Karas Fields walked, stole second, reached third on a balk call on Eagles’ starting pitcher Michael Harkcom, and scored on a passed ball.

The Blue Wave added another run in the fourth for a 2-0 lead.

P.K. Yonge’s first seven batters were a combined 0-17 at the plate, but were also issued seven walks. Evan Wilder was the victim of two terrific fielding plays by Master’s Academy, which also had four errors.

“It was just one of those nights that takes a little bit from everybody,” Simmons said. “And they made some great plays in the field. This game could have easily been 8 or 9-1 if they didn’t make some spectacular plays with two outs and men on. It was a great win. A playoff win is always a great win.”

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