Buchholz hits its way to state championship game

Buchholz's Noah Hayse went 3-for-3 with three RBI in the Bobcats' 12-0 win over Bloomingdale (Valrico), 12-0, in a 6A state semifinal on Thursday.
Buchholz's Noah Hayse went 3-for-3 with three RBI in the Bobcats' 12-0 win over Bloomingdale (Valrico) in a 6A state semifinal on Thursday.
Photo by Jarrett Guthrie/813Preps

After having to wait an extra day due to weather earlier this week in winning their first regional final, the Buchholz Bobcats baseball team had to wait another five hours before starting their first state semifinal on Thursday.

It was well worth the wait for the Bobcats.

Buchholz put up seven runs in the first inning and added a five spot in the third to pummel Bloomingdale (Valrico), 12-0, in a 6A state semifinal at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

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Buchholz won its 10th game in a row and plays for its first baseball state title at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Fort Myers against Dwyer (Palm Beach Gardens). Dwyer blanked Viera, 8-0, in the other semifinal game.

Buchholz's Cooper Collins scores the first run of contest in the Bobcats' 12-0 win over Bloomingdale (Valrico), 12-0, in a 6A state semifinal on Thursday.
Photo by Jarrett Guthrie/813Preps Buchholz’s Cooper Collins scores the first run of the contest in the Bobcats’ 12-0 win over Bloomingdale (Valrico) in a 6A state semifinal on Thursday.

Buchholz (24-8) was originally scheduled to take the field for a 10 a.m. first pitch, but due to heavy rain and lightning, that first pitch finally happened at 3:15 p.m.

“We played a lot of hacky sack during the delay,” said Buchholz coach Ron Brooks. “But we definitely came out focused after having to sit that long.”

The first seven Buchholz hitters reached base against two Bloomingdale (19-11) pitchers. Senior Cooper Collins doubled and after Kai So walked and senior Noah Hayse drove in the first run with a bloop single down the right-field line.

After junior J.J. Gardner was hit by a pitch to load the bases, sophomore Aiden Kastensmidt made it 3-0 with a two-run double over the left fielder’s head.

Sophomore Blake Brewer followed with another two-run double off the wall in left field for a 5-0 advantage. Senior Austin Cardozo capped the inning with another two-run double that the left fielder misplayed for a 7-0 lead.

“I think we are playing our best baseball right now,” said Brooks .”We have played one of the toughest schedules in the state, and it can only help us in moments like this. We have handled adversity well.”

The Bobcats put the game into run-rule territory with a five-run third inning. Six Bobcats had a hit, with Hayse adding a two-run single, Gardner an RBI double, Brewer an RBI single and senior Anthony Wilkie a run-scoring triple.

Meanwhile on the mound, Gardner and senior Conner Brown combined to allow Bloomingdale only two hits and did not walk a Bulls hitter.

“We are fortunate enough to have a slew of arms that can go out there,” Brooks said after the Bobcats’ fourth shutout in five games, “They all want the baseball, they don’t shy away, and the guy behind the plate [Hayse] is so important.”

The Buchholz catcher is ready for Saturday’s championship contest.

“It’s going to be fun playing for the title because most of us have been playing together since we were eight years old,” Hayse said. “I’m ready to go.”

Buchholz's J.J. Gardner started on the mound and allowed only two hits in the Bobcats' 12-0 win over Bloomingdale (Valrico), 12-0, in a 6A state semifinal on Thursday.
Photo by Jarrett Guthrie/813Preps Buchholz’s J.J. Gardner started on the mound and allowed only two hits in the Bobcats’ 12-0 win over Bloomingdale (Valrico) in a 6A state semifinal on Thursday.
Buchholz's Aidan Kastensmidt went 1-for-2 with two RBI in the Bobcats' 12-0 win over Bloomingdale (Valrico), 12-0, in a 6A state semifinal on Thursday.
Photo by Jarrett Guthrie/813Preps Buchholz’s Aidan Kastensmidt went 1-for-2 with two RBI in the Bobcats’ 12-0 win over Bloomingdale (Valrico) in a 6A state semifinal on Thursday.

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