Buchholz advances to first baseball state semifinal appearance

The Buchholz baseball team celebrates after a 1-0 win over Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday that propelled the Bobcats to their first ever state semifinal appearance.
The Buchholz baseball team celebrates after a 1-0 win over Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday that propelled the Bobcats to their first ever state semifinal appearance.
Photo by C.J. Gish

The Buchholz Bobcats baseball team had to wait an extra day to play its Region 1-6A Final with Hagerty (Oviedo) after heavy rain and lightning postponed the game on Monday night.

But when they finally got on the field on Tuesday afternoon at Bobcat Park, one run was all they needed.  

Kai So singled in Cooper Collins with two outs in the third inning and Aiden Kastensmidt combined with Wyatt Clarke on a five-hitter as Buchholz edged Hagerty, 1-0, to advance to the Bobcat’s first state semifinal appearance in school history.

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Buchholz (23-8) will play Bloomingdale (Valrico) in a 6A state semifinal game Thursday at 10 a.m. at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

Buchholz's Cooper Collins scored the Bobcats' lone run in the third inning in a 1-0 win over Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz’s Cooper Collins scored the Bobcats’ lone run in the third inning in a 1-0 win over Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday.
Buchholz baseball coach Ron Brooks (left) gets a hug from Buchholz football coach Mark Whittemore after the Bobcats' 1-0 win over Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz baseball coach Ron Brooks (left) gets a hug from Buchholz football coach Mark Whittemore after the Bobcats’ 1-0 win over Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday.

But first Buchholz had to end an 0-for-8 streak in regional finals, including a 10-8 heartbreaker to Winter Springs a year ago.

Mission accomplished.

“This was a barrier we had to get over,” Buchholz coach Ron Brooks said. “I’m excited and the kids are excited, and I think the team might play freer now. But the job is not done.”

Buchholz only managed three hits against Hagerty (20-9) starter Bradley Toro. But they got the only run they needed in the third. With two outs and nobody on, Toro walked Collins for his only free pass of the game. Collins advanced to second on a wild pitch and So drove him home with a single into center for a 1-0 lead.

“Our offense doesn’t get much credit because of our pitching and defense,” Brooks said. “I know we only had one run and three hits, but our at-bats against that guy (Toro) were tough.”

Kastensmidt (5-2) made it stand up, allowing only four hits and walking two with three strikeouts in six innings. Clarke allowed one hit but pitched a clean seventh inning for his sixth save.

Hagerty had their chances, but Kastensmidt stranded two Huskies baserunners in the second inning and got out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth.

“I was definitely nervous, but I had to keep going and was determined to make the one run stand up,” Kastensmidt said.

Hagerty ran themselves out of a possible big inning in the fourth as they had a runner picked off at third. And after a leadoff single in the seventh, a courtesy runner was also picked off in a rundown between first and second base.

The only thing that was left for the Bobcats was the dogpile in the middle of the field, which Brooks happily joined in on.

“I love those young men, and I just wanted to celebrate with them,” Brooks said. “It’s their team, and today was our day.”

Buchholz baseball team poses for photos after advancing to its first state semifinals appearance in program history.
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz baseball team poses for photos after advancing to its first state semifinals appearance in program history.
Buchholz's Blake Brewer tags a Hagerty (Oviedo) courtesy runner out in a run down between first and second base for the first out of the seventh inning in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz’s Blake Brewer tags a Hagerty (Oviedo) courtesy runner out in a rundown between first and second base for the first out of the seventh inning in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday.
Buchholz's Aidan Kastensmidt pitched six scoreless innings in a 1-0 win over Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz’s Aidan Kastensmidt pitched six scoreless innings in a 1-0 win over Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday.
Buchholz shortstop Cooper Collins catches the final out of the game in a 1-0 win over Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz shortstop Cooper Collins catches the final out of the game in a 1-0 win over Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday.
Buchholz's Wyatt Clarke picked up his sixth save of the season in a 1-0 win over Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday. 1
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz’s Wyatt Clarke picked up his sixth save of the season in a 1-0 win over Hagerty (Oviedo) in the Region 1-6A Final on Tuesday. 1

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