This was a successful 2022 season for the baseball teams in the Mainstreet Daily News coverage area.
Columbia (Lake City) advanced to its first Class 5A state semifinal appearance in school history, while Suwannee (Live Oak) made it to the 4A Final Four in Fort Myers. This was the Bulldogs’ second state semifinal appearance in four years.
So it should be no surprise that Columbia leads the way with three selections to the Mainstreet Daily News All Area Baseball Team for big schools, presented by Drummond Community Bank.
The Tigers are joined by Buchholz (Gainesville) and Santa Fe (Alachua), who also had three players apiece selected by a local panel of sportswriters and coaches from Mainstreet’s eight-county area.
Columbia won three regional playoff games at home, including against defending 5A state champ Mosley (Lynn Haven) and then scoring three runs in the bottom of the seventh to edge Lincoln (Tallahassee), 7-6, in the Region 1-5A final.
While the Tigers lost to Eau Gallie (Melbourne), 6-0, in the state semifinal game in Fort Myers, they finished with a 22-9 record in coach Chris Howard’s first season in Lake City after coming over from Hamilton County (Jasper).
Rising senior Hayden Gustavson, an FSU commit, led the Tigers in most offensive categories with 27 RBI’s and 14 doubles, and tied for second with 32 hits. Gustavson spent most of his season at catcher but also made 10 appearances on the mound with a 2.58 ERA and two saves.
“Hayden is a great player and student of the game,” Howard said. “He can play any position on the field and play it well and never gives up in any at-bat.”
Gustavson is joined by teammates Matt Dumas, a Hillsborough Community College commit, and Brent Howard, who is signed to play at Jacksonville University.
Dumas led the Tigers with 31 runs scored while batting .348 with 32 hits, 13 RBI and a team-high 22 steals. He also made seven appearances on the mound with a 0.64 ERA.
“He (Dumas) is very, very fast and led off for CHS all year,” Howard said. “He covered lots of ground in center field and threw many runners out with his great arm.”
Howard batted .367 with a team-high 36 hits to go with 22 RBI, 22 runs, 11 doubles and 10 steals. He also had a 1.96 ERA in eight appearances on the mound.
“(Brent) is a leader on and off the field and has a knack of making everyone around him better,” Howard added. “He can play any position on the field and is a student of the game.”
Santa Fe won 20 games and another District 4-4A title while advancing to the state playoffs once again before falling to Clay (Green Cove Springs), 12-9, in 10 innings in the Region 4-4A quarterfinals. The Raiders also had three players selected to this year’s All-Area team.
Matthew Geelhoed led the Raiders with 30 RBI, 24 runs scored, five doubles, two triples and four home runs on 31 hits while adding eight steals. He is joined by teammates Devan Mitchum and pitcher Dylan Evans.
“(Geelhoed) was clutch for us all year, and it seemed like whenever we needed the big hit Matt would get it,” Santa Fe coach Travis Yeckring said. “We will miss his positive attitude and leadership abilities along with his presence in the lineup.”
Mitchum led Santa Fe with a .371 average, along with a team-high 33 hits and six doubles. He also scored 20 runs, hit 15 RBI, tied for the team lead with six doubles and and was second with 10 steals.
“(Devan) was our heart and soul,” Yeckring said. “He always found a way to bring us energy and our team fed off of it.”
Evans led the Raiders on the mound with a perfect 9-0 record and 2.04 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched. The junior also batted .357 with 30 hits, 22 runs, 20 RBI and six doubles.
“He was just a model us all season offensively and on the mound,” Yeckring said. “We knew every time Dylan took the ball on the mound it was someone we could count on to throw a lot of strikes and compete.”
Despite a 17-9 record, Buchholz just missed out on the 6A playoffs. But that didn’t stop the honors from coming in for sophomore infielder Cooper Collins, sophomore utility player Anthony Wilkie, and sophomore pitcher Austin Cardozo.
Collins hit .390 with a team-high 28 runs on 32 hits with 11 RBI, six doubles and seven steals.
“Cooper did a great job of providing a spark for us offensively,” Buchholz coach Ron Brooks said. “He was consistent at the plate all year and showed a lot of leadership for our club at shortstop.”
Wilkie batted .368 on 25 hits with 22 RBI and 15 runs and led Buchholz with seven doubles and four home runs. He went 4-3 on the mound for the Bobcats with 41 strikeouts in 34. 1 innings pitched with a 3.47 ERA.
“Anthony led our team in home runs and had some big hits for us this year,” Brooks said.
Cardozo led Buchholz on the bump with an 8-1 mark and 1.77 ERA throwing 45 strikeouts in 47.1 innings pitched.
“Austin took the hill each week and gave us great starts against some of the best competition in the state,” Brooks said.
Suwannee took advantage of being the No. 1 seed in Region 1-4A and defeated Clay (Green Cove Springs) and Bishop Kenny (Jacksonville) to advance to Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers for the second time in four years. While the Bulldogs’ season ended in the state semifinal to eventual 4A champion Island Coast (Cape Coral), they still finished 24-5 under coach Justin Bruce.
Two senior infielders—Matthew Gill and Peyton Waters—were named to the All Area team.
Gill was on fire at the plate, batting .453 with 43 hits, 33 runs, 30 RBI with 12 doubles, two home runs and tied for the team lead with 19 steals. He also went 4-1 with a 3.16 ERA in 13 appearances on the mound with 79 strikeouts in 55.1 innings pitched.
Waters was right behind Gill with a .390 average, 30 hits, 19 runs, 30 RBI and a team-high five home runs along with nine steals.
“Matthew Gill and Peyton Waters had a fantastic season and led our team back to a Final Four appearance for only the third time in school history,” Bruce said. “I am proud of the season they put together and know both of these players will be successful at the next level.”
The final two players named to the All-Area team are senior infielder Andrew Dawson from P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) and Gainesville junior infielder Tyler Guarino.
Dawson hit a team-high and area-leading .681 batting average with 32 hits, 20 RBI, 15 runs, 11 doubles, two triples and added eight steals in helping lead the Blue Wave to a 12-6 season. He also went 4-1 on the mound with a 1.25 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 33.2 innings pitched.
Guarino led the Hurricanes with a .385 average with 30 hits, 21 runs, 23 RBI, six doubles, a triple, two home runs and 11 steals. He also saw time on the mound with 32 strikeouts in 31 innings pitched.
2022 Mainstreet Daily News All-Area Baseball teams presented by Drummond Community Bank
Coverage area – Alachua, Bradford, Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy, Suwannee, and Union County counties and Keystone Heights.
BIG SCHOOL (3A-7A)
C – Hayden Gustavson (Jr./Columbia)
INF – Matthew Gill (Sr./Suwannee), Peyton Waters (Sr./Suwannee), Cooper Collins (So./Buchholz), Andrew Dawson (Sr./P.K. Yonge)
OF – Matthew Geelhoed (Sr./Santa Fe), Matt Dumas (Jr./Columbia), Tyler Guarino (Jr./Gainesville), Devan Mitchum (Sr.)
UTIL – Brent Howard (Sr./Columbia), Anthony Wilkie (So., Buchholz)
P – Dylan Evans (Jr./Santa Fe)
P – Austin Cardozo (So./Buchholz)
Buchholz (Gainesville) – Noah Hayes (So.), Ryan McCracken (So.), Donny Hiebert (Jr.), Cedaris Smith (Fr.)
Columbia (Lake City) – Brayden Thomas (Jr.), Truitt Todd (Sr.), Ty Jackson (Sr.), Kade Jackson (Sr.)
Eastside (Gainesville) – Nicholas Eichel (Jr.), Thomas Shay (Jr.), Miles Archer (Jr.)
Gainesville High – Josh Morison (So.), Colton Kelly (Jr.), Nate Kemph (Jr.), Jesus Canizalez (Jr.), Andrew Pickles (Sr.), Jack Herrbold (Sr.)
Keystone Heights – Noah Branch (Jr.), Kenneth Guy (So.), Ashton Roach (Sr.)
P.K. Yonge (Gainesville) – Aidan Mansfield (Jr.), Lane Sparkman (Jr.), Kyrin Griffith (Sr.), Jacob Pridgen (Jr.), Zander Santez (Jr.), Cody Cellon (Jr.)
Santa Fe (Alachua) – Devante Mitchum (Sr.), Conner Brown (So.), Kyler Nowling (Jr.)
Suwannee (Live Oak) – Joshua Fernald (Jr.); Camdon Frier (So.), Tyson Greene (Sr.), Cody Campbell (Sr.), Carston Palmer (Jr.), Easton Kirby (Jr.)