Buchholz to play Bloomingdale on Thursday in 6A semifinals

Buchholz baseball team poses for photos after advancing to its first state semifinals appearance in program history.
Buchholz baseball team poses for photos after advancing to its first state semifinals appearance in program history.
Photo by C.J. Gish

For the first time in program history, the Buchholz baseball team is in the final four.

The Bobcats defeated Hagerty (Oviedo), 1-0, on Tuesday in the FHSAA Class 6A-Region 1 Final to advance.

Sophomore Aiden Kastensmidt combined with junior Wyatt Clarke on a five-hitter to make history.

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“It feels great,” said Buchholz coach Ron Brooks. “The most special part of it is doing it for all of those who have been a part of this program. This one was for the Bobcat Baseball Family.”

Buchholz (23-8) is the No. 1 seed and will face No. 4 seed Bloomingdale at 10 a.m. on Thursday in the 6A state semifinals at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

The game will be broadcast online (free audio) at Mainstreet Daily News beginning at 9:50 a.m. with Mike Ridaught and Marty Pallman on the call.

Buchholz's Noah Hayse leads the Bobcats with a .366 batting average and 30 hits.
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz’s Noah Hayse leads the Bobcats with a .366 batting average and 30 hits.

Bloomingdale was a No. 5 seed in 6A-Region 3, but they knocked off the top two seeds in their region to advance, winning three straight games on the road.

The Bulls (19-10) defeated No. 1 seed East Lake (Tarpon Springs), 11-7, in the regional semifinals, followed by a 3-2 win at No. 2 seed Sickles (Tampa) in the regional final.

“They are a hot team playing really well right now,” Brooks said. “They will challenge us in all phases, and we have to be ready to play at 10 a.m.”

Bloomingdale is batting .284 but they boast a pitching staff that has a 2.31 earned run average.

Senior Cooper Hinson (Marshall University) leads the team with a .447 average, a .520 on base percentage, 34 runs scored and nine doubles.

Fellow senior Johnny Delarosa is second (.325), while junior Vinny Dinzeo, Jr. (.299), a University of South Florida commit, leads the team with 31 runs batted in.

Junior Hayden Porter leads the pitching staff with a 1.55 ERA and 66 strikeouts, while sophomore James Osting is second (1.77 ERA, 27 Ks).

Buchholz is batting .293 and is led by UCF signee Noah Hayse (.366, .523 OBP, team-leading 30 hits) and junior Kai So (.354, .462 OBP).

Kastensmidt (.316), who boasts a 0.69 ERA, and junior J.J. Gardner (.299, team-leading 12 doubles), a Jacksonville University commit, lead the Bobcats with 26 RBI apiece.

Buchholz's Kai So is second on the Bobcats with a .354 batting average.
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz’s Kai So is second on the Bobcats with a .354 batting average.

Sophomore Blake Brewer (.278, team-leading 23 RS, 18 RBI) leads the team with 20 stolen bases.

The Bobcats have a team ERA of 2.42, led by Kastensmidt.

Gardner (2.60 ERA) is 6-0, while Clarke (1-0, 1.00 ERA) leads the team with 61 strikeouts.

Clemson signee Anthony Wilkie (4-3, 2.90 ERA, 41 IP, 56K) is third on the team in strikeouts while also batting .274 with a team-leading seven home runs.

With nine straight wins, including three shutouts in their last four games, Buchholz seems to be peaking at the right time.

“The key has been playing up to our potential,” Brooks said. “We’re having fun, and all the credit goes to our players and their buy-in to our culture.”

The winner will face either No. 2 seed Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens) or No. 3 seed Viera at 11 a.m. on Saturday for the Class 6A state title.

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