Buchholz’s J.J. Gardner named Athlete of the Week

Buchholz's J.J. Gardner hit two doubles, two home runs and had four RBIs and helped the Bobcats go 3-0 last week.
Buchholz's J.J. Gardner hit two doubles, two home runs and had four RBIs and helped the Bobcats go 3-0 last week.
Photo by C.J. Gish

Buchholz outfielder/pitcher J.J. Gardner only had one home run in 22 games heading into last week.

The junior hit two in a span of 24 hours.

Gardner finished 5-for-9 (.556) with two doubles, two home runs, two runs scored and four runs batted in as the Bobcats went 3-0 with wins against Forest (Ocala), Lincoln (Tallahassee), and Mandarin (Jacksonville).

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The Jacksonville University commit also picked up a win in relief on the mound in the regular season finale against the Mustangs.

He has been recognized as the Pavlik Orthodontics Athlete of the Week for the week of April 22.

“Really big swings for us last week,” said Buchholz baseball coach Ron Brooks. “He generated a lot of energy for our team and helped spark the run we are on right now.”

For the season, Gardner is batting .293 with 22 hits and he is third on the team with a .586 slugging percentage. He is second on the team in runs scored (21) and RBI (23) and he leads the Bobcats (19-8) with 11 doubles.

“J.J. is a player with a drive to succeed,” Brooks said. “He cares deeply about his teammates and coaches. He plays with a fire and passion you want to see as a coach. That’s what makes him so successful at the plate and on the mound.”

Gardner is 5-0 on the mound with a 3.07 ERA in nine appearances. In 27.1 innings pitched he has walked 15 and struck out 28 batters.

“He has lifted us both on the mound and at the plate,” Brooks said. “He has turned into a great outfielder and gets great reads on balls. His versatility allows us to do a lot with our lineup. His leadership has really shown up this year now that he is a junior.”

Gardner is the 36th athlete to be selected for the weekly award during the 2023-24 school year.

Last week’s winner was Trey Jeffries of the Keystone Heights boys weightlifting team.

Jeffries brought home two individual Class 1A state titles from the FHSAA Boys Weightlifting Championships at the RP Funding Center in Lakeland.

Other recent winners include Trayce McKenzie of the Columbia (Lake City) baseball team and Nicholas “Nick” Tisher of the Gainesville boys weightlifting team.

For a complete list of winners, click here.

Coaches are encouraged to email their nominations each week, along with stats, no later than Sunday night to mike.ridaught@mainstreetdailynews.com.

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