Going into Friday night’s baseball game at Buchholz, visiting Fleming Island (Orange Park) entered the game with a sparkling earned run average of 1.57.
However, it was the host Bobcats who would end up dominating on the mound.
Junior Anthony Wilkie pitched a complete-game two-hitter as Buchholz shut out Fleming Island, 6-0, in a Class 6A-District 3 showdown of top 10 teams.
The Clemson commit walked only one and struck out 10 batters to improve to 2-0.
“That’s what he’s capable of doing,” said Buchholz coach Ron Brooks. “He works hard, really works at his craft. His ceiling is really, really high. Tonight, was a great indication of when he’s got all three of his pitches working. He hung a changeup a couple of times, but when he’s able to throw all of his pitches for strikes, he’s really tough.”
Buchholz (13-5), which is ranked fifth in Class 6A by MaxPreps, scored the only runs it would need in the bottom of the second inning.
Sophomore J.J. Gardner (2-for-3, 2 runs scored) and Wilkie had back-to-back singles to start the inning.
Then, with two outs, No. 9 hitter Austin Middleton (2-for-3) drove in two runs when a ground ball to shortstop Gavin Billingsley took a bad hop and bounced over his left shoulder and into centerfield for a 2-RBI single.
The Bobcats made it 3-0 on an RBI single by senior Donny Hiebert.
In the bottom of the third inning, an RBI single by Gardner, and a 2-run home run by Cedaris Smith, his second of the season, gave the Bobcats an insurmountable 6-0 lead.
Everyone in the lineup reached base at least once.
“I was really excited about that,” Brooks said. “I challenged our guys, challenged our hitters, and I said ‘you know, we’ve got to be better,’ and I thought tonight we did a great job. Two strikes, we battled, we scored a lot of runs with two outs, we ran the bases well, aggressive, overall it was just a great night for our program.”
Wilkie said getting ahead of the hitters was one of the keys.
“Yeah that definitely helped, a lot of run support helped too,” he said. “I give credit to all my teammates, Ced, big home run. Just pitching with a lead is a lot easier than pitching when it’s a lot closer game, so credit to them.”
The junior appeared to get stronger as the game wore on.
He retired the final 10 batters he faced and struck out the side in order in the fifth and seventh innings.
Fleming Island, which is ranked ninth in 6A, threatened with a pair of singles in the third inning, but Wilkie, who retired the first eight batters he faced, induced a ground ball out to end the inning.
The Golden Eagles (13-6) had just one baserunner the rest of the game.
Buchholz will travel to 3A No. 6 Providence (Jacksonville) on Saturday at 11:30 a.m.
Santa Fe 4, P.K. Yonge 0
After going on a seven-game winning streak since spring break, the P.K. Yonge baseball team has seen its fortune reverse this week. The Blue Wave have now lost three consecutive games, two to Santa Fe, including Friday’s 4-0 home loss to the Raiders.
Coach Rob Brunson changed up his pitching rotation, giving a start to senior closer Lane Sparkman, who allowed three runs on 108 pitches while striking out nine Raiders.
Santa Fe (14-6) got to Sparkman (3-1) with two runs in the first inning, an RBI single from Dalton Dampier and a sacrifice fly from Kyler Nowling.
Santa Fe starting pitcher Dylan Evans held the Blue Wave (13-7) in check, thanks in part to the fielding of his teammates behind him. He allowed just five hits, two by Nick Roach, as P.K. Yonge stranded three runners in scoring position.
Zane Starling led Santa Fe with three hits and Nate Robertson added two.
The Raiders added single runs in the fifth and seventh innings to keep the pressure on the Blue Wave. Back-to-back doubles by Evans and Angel Irizarry accounted for the score in the fifth and Cooper Ruppert added a run-scoring single in the last frame.