Here are this week’s Times-Union’s high school baseball Power Rankings, highlighting the leading teams from across Northeast Florida. The rankings are released each Tuesday through the end of the regular season. Bolles, Fleming Island and St. Johns Country Day are all aiming for a return trip to the Florida High School Athletic Association state tournament, which will be held later in May in Fort Myers. Records are through April 24 games. The softball rankings appear Mondays.
1. St. Johns Country Day (18-2, 2A)
Last week: 1.
Quality wins: Bartram Trail, Huntington Beach, Servite, Trinity Christian.
This week: The superb season continues for the Spartans. Down went a trio of foes last week: Ridgeview 12-2, Christ's Church 13-0 and then Bartram Trail in a 5-4 thriller that wasn't decided until Kellen Brown's game-winning RBI in the bottom of the seventh. They've got Northeast Florida's deepest and most punishing lineup, and Bradley Hodges remains above .500 for the year at the plate. The last step before the district tournament means three difficult games in three nights: Creekside on Tuesday, Bishop Kenny on Wednesday and Bolles on Thursday.
2. Fletcher (19-2, 6A)
Last week: Not ranked.
Quality wins: Bartram Trail, First Coast, Sandalwood (2), Trinity Christian.
This week: The Senators marched to their second Gateway Conference title in four years, paced by the powerful arms and opportunistic bats of Kyson Witherspoon and Malachi Witherspoon. Both brothers delivered ace pitching performances, Kyson in the semifinal against First Coast and Malachi in the quarterfinal against Paxon, and came through at the plate as well. Their earned run averages for 2022: 0.20 for Kyson, 0.3. Davis Manabat's sac fly to score Angel Oquendo and Vinnie Sicilia's two innings of perfect relief made the difference in Friday's final against rival Sandalwood. They've now won 10 in a row since a loss to Nease, and their Gateway performance came against several of the city's top bats. Fletcher ends the regular season against Episcopal on Tuesday and Fernandina Beach on Thursday.
3. Trinity Christian (17-6, 3A)
Last week: 2.
Quality wins: Clay, Episcopal, Providence, Sandalwood.
This week: Top-quality pitching is fueling the Conquerors. After a 4-3 loss to Bolles on Tuesday in spite of home runs from Colton Avera and Ashton Nugent, Trinity responded with a pair of shutouts, 3-0 over Flagler Palm Coast and 4-0 over Sandalwood. Brady Ellison and eighth-grade prospect Brayden Harris earned the victories. The team batting average is nearly .300 (.298) and the ERA is below 2.00 (1.96). Trinity closes with Stanton on Tuesday and Suwannee on Thursday on the road to the district tournament.
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4. Bartram Trail (16-8, 7A)
Last week: 5.
Quality wins: Clay, Ocala Forest, Parkview, Trinity Christian.
This week: As usual, the Bears aren't backing down from a challenge. Just look at their schedule last week: against Providence (a 4-3 win highlighted by Kolt Myers' 4-for-5 night and game-winning RBI), at St. Johns Country Day (a 5-4 loss in spite of Brody DeLamielleure's three-run homer in the sixth) and at Tallahassee Lincoln (a 7-3 win with a pair of Justin Nadeau doubles and a Calin Pocol home run). Only one game remains for Bartram Trail before the District 1-7A tournament, a Wednesday game against Alachua Santa Fe.
5. Sandalwood (17-4, 7A)
Last week: 3.
Quality wins: Columbia, First Coast, Oakleaf, Phenix City Central.
This week: A 2-2 week for the Saints, Gateway Conference runners-up. Sandalwood fought past a determined Wolfson 6-5 in the Gateway opener and shut out Mandarin 8-0 in a 14-strikeout one-hitter from Dakota Stone, before dropping the Gateway final 3-2 to Fletcher and losing 4-0 to Trinity Christian. Sandalwood ends the regular season on Tuesday night at Bolles.
On the bubble: Bishop Kenny (14-6, 4A), Bishop Snyder (12-4, 3A), Clay (13-9, 4A), Columbia (16-6, 5A), Episcopal (13-9, 3A), Fernandina Beach (13-7, 3A), Mandarin (16-4, 7A), Nease (14-8, 6A), Providence (13-10, 3A), Suwannee (17-4, 4A), University Christian (17-6, 2A).
Clayton Freeman covers high school sports and more for the Florida Times-Union. Follow him on Twitter at @CFreemanJAX.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: Jacksonville baseball Power Rankings: Fletcher climbs with Gateway Conference title