Buchholz head coach Ron Brooks couldn’t have asked for a better performance by his pitchers on Saturday night.
Juniors Austin Cardozo and Conner Brown combined for 14 strikeouts to help lead the No. 2 seed Bobcats to a 7-2 win over No. 3 seed Mosley (Lynn Haven) in a Class 6A-Region 1 Semifinal.
“Excellent performance,” Brooks said of his team, which will play for its first final four in program history on Tuesday night. “It was fun to watch our guys compete and play hard. They’re getting rewarded for playing the game the right way, practicing hard, and having a great attitude throughout the year.”
Cardozo (2.44 ERA) and Brown (2.72 ERA) gave up a mere two combined hits as Dolphins’ batters struggled to find the ball.
Buchholz got on the board first with a 3-run second inning.
Sophomores Cedaris Smith (2-for-3, 2 runs scored) and J.J. Gardner (2-for-3, 3 RBI) doubled to opposite sides of the field and both reached home in the second inning. Designated Hitter Kai So also scored on a bases-loaded walk as the Bobcats extended the lead to 3-0.
While Cardozo continued to get the job done on the mound, Buchholz’s batting crew had a monumental fourth inning, scoring three runs on four hits.
With a 4-1 lead, Smith, Gardner and juniors Noah Hayse and Anthony Wilkie had four straight hits to give the Bobcats a 7-1 advantage.
After a walk and a hit by pitch, Brown relieved Cardozo in the fifth inning.
Despite the bases being loaded most of the inning, Brown escaped and allowed only one runner home.
Brown tossed three scoreless innings of relief and allowed no hits. He walked only two and struck out seven batters.
This Tuesday, the No. 2 seed Bobcats (21-6) will host No. 8 seed Winter Springs (18-9-1), which eliminated Leon (Tallahassee), 14-3, in the other regional semifinal.
The Bears (18-9-1) also knocked off nationally ranked and Class 6A No. 1 Pace on the road in the regional quarterfinals.
“It feels good,” Brooks said about the opportunity to play at home. “You play well all year and you get a high seed in the tournament, so we earned that. To be able to have a chance to go to the final four at our place is pretty cool but we can’t look past Tuesday. A really, really good Winter Springs team is coming in and we’ve got to do our best to play our best.”
Newberry 7, Chiefland 4
The host and top seed Panthers overcame a 4-3 deficit with a 4-run sixth inning to rally past No. 3 seed Chiefland, 7-4, in a Class 1A-Region 4 Final.
“It took a team tonight,” said Newberry coach Mike Spina. “It really did. It took all of our guys tonight. Hats off to Chiefland, they’ve got a great ball club. We knew coming into it that it was going to be a battle to the end.”
Chiefland’s season ended at 14-9, while Newberry advances to the Class 1A final four for the second time in three years.
“We’ve built a program with no quit and our boys didn’t quit tonight,” Spina said. “They battled to the end and we found a way to win it. We’re going to enjoy this one and have a couple of days off and practice hard and get ready for Fort Myers.”
Newberry (16-8), which won the 2021 state title, will play at either 10 a.m. or 1 p.m. on Wednesday at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. An opponent will be determined once the four teams are reseeded.
Columbia 8, Lincoln 4
In Lake City, senior Joshua Fernald hit a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning as the Tigers rallied past Lincoln (Tallahassee), 8-4, in a Class 5A-Region 1 Semifinal.
Columbia, which is seeded second, trailed 4-0 before scoring two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning against the No. 3 seed Trojans (17-10) to close the gap to 4-2, setting up the theatrics in the final at-bat.
The Tigers (23-5) will travel to top seed Clay (Green Cove Springs) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. for the region final seeking its second straight final four berth.
Baseball results – Saturday, May 13
Class 1A-Region 3 Final
1 Lafayette (Mayo) 14, 2 Union County (Lake Butler) 3 (5)
Class 1A-Region 4 Final
1 Newberry 7, 3 Chiefland 4
Class 5A-Region 1 Semifinals
2 Columbia (Lake City) 8, 3 Lincoln (Tallahassee) 4
Class 6A-Region 1 Semifinals
2 Buchholz 7,3 Mosley (Lynn Haven) 2