Late rally sends Bobcats to district baseball title game

Buchholz's Anthony Wilkie lifts up his teammates between innings after the Bobcats fell behind 3-0 to Oakleaf in the District 3-6A Semifinal on Tuesday.
Buchholz's Anthony Wilkie lifts up his teammates between innings after the Bobcats fell behind 3-0 to Oakleaf in the District 3-6A Semifinal on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish

For the first five innings of Tuesday’s District 3-6A semifinal at Bobcat Park, Buchholz couldn’t solve Oakleaf (Orange Park) starting pitcher Jorden Clarke.

But in the bottom of the sixth, everything changed for the Bobcats.

The first seven Buchholz hitters reached base in the inning capped off by a home run by senior Anthony Wilkie, as the Bobcats (19-8) rallied past Oakleaf, 7-3, to advance to the district championship game for the second year in a row.

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No. 2 Buchholz will host No. 4 seed Fleming Island (Orange Park) on Thursday at 7 p.m. as the Bobcats attempt to repeat as district champs. Fleming Island upset top-seed Tocoi Creek (St. Augustine), 5-3, in the other semifinal.

Buchholz's Austin Cardozo secures a throw to first base for an out against Oakleaf in the District 3-6A Semifinal on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz’s Austin Cardozo secures a throw to first base for an out against Oakleaf in the District 3-6A Semifinal on Tuesday.

Clarke retired the first nine Buchholz hitters on only 25 pitches. Then in the top of the third Oakleaf (17-9) got on the board against Wilkie.

Wilkie hit a batter and gave up a single with one out and was pulled for junior reliever Wyatt Clarke. Clarke then loaded the bases after a walk, and Oakleaf took a 2-0 lead as Buchholz senior shortstop Cooper Collins threw past first on a double play attempt for a throwing error that scored two runs.

“We gave up the first few runs on a throwing error but kind of settled in after that,” Buchholz coach Ron Brooks said. “I thought our defense was actually pretty good for the most part.”

Oakleaf extended the lead to 3-0 in the fifth on a two-out RBI single.

Buchholz's Wyatt Clarke pitched the third through fifth innings against Oakleaf in the District 3-6A Semifinal on Tuesday.
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz’s Wyatt Clarke pitched the third through fifth innings against Oakleaf in the District 3-6A Semifinal on Tuesday.

Then came the sixth. Collins was hit by a pitch and junior Kai So singled to left. Clarke was pulled for a reliever, who promptly walked senior Noah Hayse to load the bases. Junior J.J. Gardner was then walked to bring in the first Buchholz run.

Pinch-runner Hudson Sapp scored on a wild pitch to make it 3-2, then sophomore Aiden Kastensmidt put the Bobcats ahead 4-3 with a two-run double to right field. Wilkie then capped the rally with a three-run homer that could probably be seen in space.

Buchholz's Blake Brewer (right) on second base in the fifth inning against Oakleaf in Tuesday's District 3-6A Semifinal.
Photo by C.J. Gish Buchholz’s Blake Brewer (right) on second base in the fifth inning against Oakleaf in Tuesday’s District 3-6A Semifinal.

“He (Wilkie) can hit some of those moonshots,” Brooks said. “We were just glad that one got out of the park.”

Senior Austin Cardozo shut down the Knights over the final two innings on the mound, allowing only one hit and striking out four.

Buchholz run-ruled Fleming Island (18-9) in both meetings this season, beating the Golden Eagles 11-1 in six innings and 15-3 in five. Brooks said none of that matters now.

“The records go out the window because you are looking to hang a banner,” Brooks said. “You are representing the school, and district titles do matter.”

FHSAA BASEBALL DISTRICT TOURNAMENTS

Class 1A-District 6 at Hilliard

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

1 Lafayette (Mayo) 10, 5 Branford 0 (6)

2 Union County (Lake Butler) 11, 6 Hamilton County (Jasper) 1 (5)

Wednesday, May 1 – Championship

2 Union County (Lake Butler) vs. 1 Lafayette (Mayo), 7 p.m.

Class 1A-District 7 at Higher seed

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

1 Newberry 10, 5 Bell 0 (5)

2 Chiefland 4, 3 Trenton 1

Thursday, May 2 – Championship

2 Chiefland at 1 Newberry, 7 p.m.

Class 1A-District 8 at Higher seed

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

1 Williston 12, 4 Wildwood 0 

2 Glades Day (Belle Glade) 15, 3 Bronson 5 (6)

Thursday, May 2 – Championship

2 Glades Day (Belle Glade) at 1 Williston, 7 p.m.

Class 3A-District 4 at Higher seed

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

2 Keystone Heights 12, 3 P.K. Yonge 0 (5)

1 Trinity Catholic (Ocala) 8, 4 Father Lopez (Daytona Beach) 2

Thursday, May 2 – Championship

2 Keystone Heights at 1 Trinity Catholic (Ocala), 6:30 p.m.

Class 4A-District 2 at Higher seed

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

3 Baker County (Glen St. Mary) 7, 2 Suwannee (Live Oak) 2

Class 4A-District 4 at Higher seed

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

1 Santa Fe (Alachua) 10, 4 Eastside 0 (6)  

2 Menendez (St. Augustine) 4, 3 Palatka 2

Thursday, May 2 – Championship

2 Menendez (St. Augustine) at 1 Santa Fe (Alachua), 7 p.m.

Class 5A-District 2 at Higher seed

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

2 Columbia (Lake City) 10, 3 Gainesville 0 (5)

1 Lincoln (Tallahassee) 10, 4 Rickards (Tallahassee) 4

Thursday, May 2 – Championship

2 Columbia (Lake City) at 1 Lincoln (Tallahassee)

Class 6A-District 3 at Higher seed

Tuesday, April 30 – Semifinals

2 Buchholz 7, 3 Oakleaf (Orange Park) 3

4 Fleming Island (Orange Park) 5, 1 Tocoi Creek (St. Augustine) 3

Thursday, May 2 – Championship

4 Fleming Island (Orange Park) at 2 Buchholz, 7 p.m. – Game will be broadcast online (audio only) at Mainstreet Daily News

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