Suwannee, Fort White coaches among state’s best

Following a run all the way to the state semifinals, a pair of area baseball coaches finished top three in the voting for their respective classification for Coach of the Year.

Suwannee (Live Oak) coach Justin Bruce finished third in the voting for the Class 4A Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to the 4A state semifinals.

The Bulldogs had a 15-game winning streak heading into their final four matchup against eventual state champion Island Coast (Cape Coral) at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers. Suwannee, which lost 9-2, finished the season with a record of 24-5.

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Clint Montgomery of Island Coast was named the 4A COY while Corey Cooke of state runner-up Jensen Beach finished second.

Fort White coach Rick Julius finished third in the voting for the Class 1A COY following the school’s first final four in program history.

The Indians upset Union County, 4-2, in nine innings in Lake Butler in the Class 1A regional semifinals. Fort White then edged Lafayette (Mayo), 3-2, on the road in the regional final to advance to their first state semifinal in program history.

In Fort Myers, the Indians lost to eventual state champion, Holmes County (Bonifay), 3-1, to end the season with a record of 16-7.

Jeromy Powell of Holmes County finished first in the voting for 1A COY after leading his team to a 24-7 record and the school’s first state championship.

Jeff Patton of state runner-up Bozeman (Panama City), which defeated Dixie County (Cross City) in the other 1A state semifinal, finished second in the voting.

Bruce and Julius were two of the area nominees named for Mr. Baseball and Coach of the Year.

Every finalist was the leading vote-getter in their classification, making each one the Player of the Year or Coach of the Year in their class. The two overall winners will be announced on Thursday, June 16th, following a final round of balloting by coaches and media.

Following are the 2022 Mr. Baseball Award finalists:

Roman Anthony, Senior, Outfielder, Douglas, Class 7A Player of the Year

Helped his squad to the Class 7A state title with a .520 batting average, 14 doubles, 10 home runs, 36 runs scored and 40 runs batted in. Signed with the University of Mississippi.

Walter Ford, Senior, Pitcher, Pace, Class 6A Player of the Year

Helped his team to a state runner-up finish with a 9-1 record and a 1.61 ERA. He had 119 strikeouts in 65 innings. Signed with the University of Alabama.

Wes Mendes, Junior, Pitcher/Outfielder, Jesuit, Class 5A Player of the Year

Helped his squad to the Class 5A state title with a 10-1 record and a 1.16 ERA. He had 93 strikeouts in 60 innings. He also had a .422 batting average with 3 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs, 24 runs scored and 21 RBI. Committed to Vanderbilt University.

Kevin Martinez, Junior, Pitcher/Infielder, Island Coast, Class 4A Player of the Year

Helped his team to the state championship with a 12-1 record and 1.27 ERA. He had 93 strikeouts in 81 innings. He also had a .452 batting average with 9 doubles, 2 home runs, 24 runs scored and 24 runs batted in. Committed to Flagler College.

Cade Kurland, Senior, Infielder, Berkeley Prep, Class 3A Player of the Year

Helped his team to the Class 3A state championship with a .468 batting average, 7 doubles, 13 home runs, 44 runs scored and 38 runs batted in. Signed with the University of Florida.

Bradley Hodges, Senior, Pitcher, St. Johns Country Day (Orange Park), Class 2A Player of the Year

Helped his team to a 23-5 record and a spot in the regional finals with a 10-0 record and 1.28 ERA. He had 114 strikeouts in 60 innings. He also hit. 516 with 11 doubles, 9 home runs, 35 runs scored and 32 RBI. Signed with the University of Virginia.

Colby Jones, Senior, Pitcher/Infielder, Holmes County (Bonifay), Class 1A Player of the Year

Helped his team to the Class 1A state title with an 8-1 record and an 0.87 ERA. He had 80 strikeouts in 65 innings. He also hit .511 with 5 doubles, 5 triples, 2 home runs, 32 runs scored and 33 runs batted in. Signed with Northwest Florida State College.

Following are the 2022 Baseball Coach of the Year finalists:

Todd Fitz-Gerald, Douglas (Parkland), Class 7A Coach of the Year

Led his squad to a 30-2 record and a second straight Class 7A state title. In 11 years at Douglas, he has posted a 226-55 record with three state titles (2016-21-22). His career record of 476-121 includes a 10-year stint at Plantation American Heritage with a state title (2008) and two other Final Four appearances (2002 and 2009).

Ralph Suarez, Doral Academy, Class 6A Coach of the Year

Led his team to a 25-4-1 record and the school’s first state title. In eight years at Doral he has posted a 162-55 record, and in 23 years overall, he has a 565-170-5 record with four other state titles at Brito Miami Private School (1996-97-99 and 2002).

Miguel Menendez, Jesuit (Tampa), Class 5A Coach of the Year

Led his team to a 24-8 record and the Class 5A state title. In eight years at Jesuit he has posted a 144-48 record with a state title in 2019 and a state runner-up finish in 2017. He has a career record of 279-130 in 16 years as a head coach at Jesuit and Key West High School.

Clint Montgomery, Island Coast, Class 4A Coach of the Year

Led his team to a 24-7 record and the Class 4A state title. In 13 years at Island Coast he has posted a 220-141 record.

Brian Campbell, North Broward Prep, Class 3A Coach of the Year

Led his school to a 23-9 record and a spot in the state Final Four. In 15 years at NBP, Campbell has a 229-174 record with a state title in 2021 and two other Final Four appearances in 2011 and 2014.

Chris Cuadra, Miami Christian, Class 2A Coach of the Year

Led his squad to a 29-3 record and the Class 2A state championship. In 10 years, he has posted a 152-90 record with three state titles (2018-19-22).

Jeromy Powell, Holmes County, Class 1A Coach of the Year

Led his squad to a 24-7 record and the school’s first state championship. In six years as head coach, he has posted an 89-64 record.

Final voting numbers by class listed below:

 

Class 7A

Player, School, Points   

Roman Anthony, Douglas, 110                    

Cameron Smith, Palm Beach Central, 46      

Garrett Baumann, Hagerty, 41      

Coach, School, Points

Todd Fitz-Gerald, Douglas, 120

Matt Judkins, Palm Beach Gardens, 47

Dennis Braun, Plant, 37

                                                                                                     

Class 6A

Player, School, Points    

Walter Ford, Pace, 76      

Michael Torres, Doral Academy, 44      

Adrian Santana, Doral Academy, 35      

Coach, School, Points

Ralph Suarez, Doral Academy, 107

Jason McBride, Pace, 66

Pete Donovan, Melbourne, 32

 

Class 5A

Player, School, Points    

Wes Mendes, Jesuit, 104    

Marco Fuentes, Belen Jesuit, 48    

DeAmez Ross, Eau Gallie, 46    

Coach, School, Points

Miguel Menendez, Jesuit, 110

Bob Collins, Eau Gallie, 61

Jimmy Nocera, Naples, 36

                               

Class 4A

Player, School, Points    

Kevin Martinez, Island Coast, 102        

Trey Beard, Dunedin, 50   

Jason Torres, Miami Springs, 30        

Coach, School, Points

Clint Montgomery, Island Coast, 125

Corey Cooke, Jensen Beach, 61

Justin Bruce, Suwannee (Live Oak), 34

 

Class 3A

Player, School, Points    

Cade Kurland, Berkeley Prep, 79    

Yoel Tejeda, North Broward Prep, 57    

Sal Stewart, Westminster Christian, 45    

Coach, School, Points

Brian Campbell, North Broward Prep, 77

Richie Warren, Berkeley Prep, 71

Brady Bogart, Villages, 44

                                                                                                     

Class 2A

Player, School, Points    

Bradley Hodges, St. Johns Country Day, 64    

Braden Holcomb, Foundation Academy, 54    

Eric Fernandez, Riviera Prep, 41    

Coach, School, Points

Chris Cuadra, Miami Christian, 105

Mike Posey, North Florida Christian, 64

Mike Matthews, Out-of-Door Academy, 27

Class 1A

Player, School, Points    

Colby Jones, Holmes County, 91    

Jeremy Todd, Bozeman, 60    

Brody Langlotz, Bozeman, 44         

Coach, School, Points

Jeromy Powell, Holmes County, 108

Jeff Patton, Bozeman, 77

Rick Julius, Fort White, 27

 

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