Special to the Recorder
The Ponte Vedra baseball team’s pursuit of a state championship ended abruptly last week in the regional quarterfinal round of the 6A playoffs at the Sharks’ field following a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Paxon.
The Sharks (17-11) sent their ace, junior Kevin Faulkner, into the game against the ace of the Golden Eagles (13-12), Ben Van Sickle, and the resulting pitchers’ battle was not unexpected.
Faulkner started with three straight strikeouts, then pitched flawless baseball for four more innings before showing signs that his invincibility might be unraveling in the fifth. In that inning, he hit a batter and issued a base on balls before inducing a 6-3 ground out to end the inning.
The sixth frame proved the undoing for Faulkner and the rest of the Sharks. In the inning, Paxon scored the game’s only runs on three hits – the big blow a double by cleanup batter Sammy Coffrin.
While Faulkner was pitching well for five innings, so also was his opponent. Shark third baseman Quinton Brehm was able to solve Van Sickle twice, lacing a double inside of the third base bag in the first inning then delivering a single in the sixth in a futile attempt at a Ponte Vedra comeback. Jack Hahnemann had singled for Ponte Vedra in the fifth but was left stranded.
The Sharks had their final opportunity to get back in the game in the seventh inning. With one out, pinch hitter Michael Zenni, delivered a blistering base hit to left, Hahnemann lined out to right and John Brown walked. But Van Sickle ended the inning and the game by striking out the next Shark batter.
Faulkner’s final pitching line showed eight strikeouts and only four base hits allowed while losing for the first time.