Three area teams claim district baseball titles

Santa Fe's Earl Finley attempts to get an out in the top of the second inning against Tocoi Creek on Thursday.
Photo by C.J. Gish

Buchholz, Newberry and Williston picked up district baseball titles on Thursday.

The Bobcats, Panthers and Red Devils were three of seven teams playing for district championships as Santa Fe (Alachua), P.K. Yonge, Union County (Lake Butler) and Trenton fell short.

Tocoi Creek (St. Augustine) 6, Santa Fe (Alachua) 3

Become A Member

Mainstreet does not have a paywall, but pavement-pounding journalism is not free. Join your neighbors who make this vital work possible.

A few defensive miscues and a failure to pick up key hits with runners on base kept the host Raiders from capturing the Class 4A-District 4 title on Thursday.  

Photo by C.J. Gish Santa Fe’s Kyler Nowling went 2-for-2 and was walked three times against Tocoi Creek on Thursday.

Tocoi Creek (15-11) scored first when the Raiders mishandled an infield hit that allowed a run to score with two out in the top of the first inning.

In the bottom of the first, Santa Fe (18-9) loaded the bases with one out and a Dylan Evans single drove in two runs. Following a walk to load the bases again, Cooper Ruppert hit into a double play to end the inning.

Both teams traded runs in the second inning and Santa Fe led 3-2 going into the top of the fourth inning when Toros took advantage of two misplayed hits into the outfield that led to two runs scoring.

“You can’t give that many teams free outs in playoff baseball,” Santa Fe coach Travis Yeckring said. “We played fantastic defense all year long but for whatever reason it let us down a little bit.”

The Toros added runs in the top of the sixth and seventh innings to go up 6-3 while Santa Fe had plenty of chances throughout the contest but stranded 15 runners on base. The Raiders loaded the bases in the bottom of the sixth and seventh innings but failed to score.

“Certainly, big hitting,” Yeckring said. “You’re going to get the big hit sometimes and sometimes you’re not. Tonight, we did a great job of getting on base, we just couldn’t get the big hit.”

Kyler Nowling and Zane Starling led the Raiders with two hits each. Evans had two RBI and Nowling drove in a run.

Starling started on the mound and went five innings, striking out five, walking three and allowing one earned run.

“I’m excited to compete on Tuesday and I really loved our energy and felt like we were together tonight, we just didn’t execute very well and we’ve got to get back to practice and go to work,” Yeckring said. “But I feel great about the season overall. I think our body of work, that’s why we had a good season so you play a bad game it’s not all riding on this one game, and with this format, we should still get a chance to play on Tuesday.”

Photo by C.J. Gish Santa Fe’s Deacon Northway scores to put the Raiders up 2-1 in the bottom of the second inning against Tocoi Creek on Thursday.

Buchholz 9, Fleming Island (Orange Park) 0

Junior pitcher Austin Cardozo threw five scoreless innings and the Bobcats broke open a close game with six runs in the third inning to ease past Fleming Island to win the 6A-District 3 title.

Cardozo allowed only one hit and walked three while striking out seven.

“We got tremendous starting pitching from Austin Cardozo,” Buchholz coach Ron Brooks said. “Offensively we had great at bats and ran the bases really well.”

Sophomore J.J. Gardner led Buchholz at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double and three runs driven in. Sophomores Cedaris Smith and Kai So also had a pair of hits.

Junior Connor Brown came in relief and threw two scoreless innings allowing not hits or walks with four strikeouts

“Connor Brown was lights out in relief,” Brooks said. “Proud of how hard our kids played.”

Buchholz (19-6), which has won six in a row and nine of their last 11, will host a first-round regional quarterfinal next Wednesday, May 10.

“We are playing well at the right time,” Brooks said. “A really fun week of baseball.”

Trinity Catholic (Ocala) 10, P.K. Yonge 0 (5)

P.K. Yonge saw its six-game winning streak come to a crashing end Thursday in the District 3A-4 championship game to host and top seed Ocala Trinity Catholic, 10-0.

The No. 3 seed Blue Wave, on the state tournament bubble to start the district tournament Tuesday, now await the final regional rankings from this weekend. For regional playoffs, district champions earn the top four seeds, while seeds No. 5 through 8 receive at-large bids, which will all be seeded by MaxPreps rankings.

P.K. Yonge (19-8) hopes its semifinal win Wednesday over region No. 8 Keystone Heights and results elsewhere help it earn a berth in the playoffs that start next week.

Trinity Catholic ace Mekai Griffin didn’t allow a hit in the five-inning run-ruled game. After giving up a two-out walk to Xander Sanetz in the first inning, Griffin set down the Blue Wave in order over the next four innings, striking out seven of the 12 batters he faced.

Ashton Fernandez’s two-run home run in the first inning off P.K. Yonge starter Aidan Mansfield (6-2) set the tone for the Celtics (19-8).

Trinity Catholic put the game out of reach with six runs in the fourth inning by using five hits and several errors by the Blue Wave for an 8-0 lead.

Meanwhile, Griffin relied on his teammates on hard-hit balls by P.K. Yonge batters.

“The balls that were falling for hits or going through for hits in wins earlier this week, were caught or fielded tonight,” P.K. Yonge coach Rob Brunson said. “Trinity Catholic is a very good team and a deserving district champion.

“It’s been an amazing season. I’ll never forget the fight this team had and the battles that we fought through.”

Newberry 1, Trenton 0

Junior Braxton Brady threw a complete-game 5-hit shutout as the Panthers won the Class 1A-District 7 title on Thursday.

“We battled all night long and they had a good pitcher on the mound, kept us off balance,” Newberry coach Mike Spina said. “We found a way to score a run and Braxton Brady shut it down on the mound. He had a heck of a night.”

Brady walked only one and struck out five and he also had two of the Panthers’ three hits.

Sophomore Jackson McDavid drove in their only run with a double.

The Panthers, who improved to 14-8, will host a Class 1A regional semifinal on Wednesday, May 10.

Williston 6, Glades Day 3

Williston (8-18) bounced back from an early Glades Day (15-8) 3-0 first-inning lead by scoring four runs in the top of the third and two in the top of the fourth for a 6-3 win in the Class 1A-District 8 championship game on Thursday.

A.J. Hilligoss struck out five while allowing four hits and three walks for the Red Devils.

Lafayette 9, Union County (Lake Butler) 8

Union County (Lake Butler) took leads of 6-3 after the first inning and 8-5 through two innings before Lafayette (19-4) bounced back with four runs in the top of the third for a 9-8 win in the Class 1A-District 6 title game on Thursday.

The Tigers (17-8) were led by Preston Bonsall who went 2-for-3 with 2 RBI. Erick Lasseter and Blake Agner also drove in two runs apiece for Union County.


Class 2A-District 4 Final at St. Francis Catholic Academy 

1 Oak Hall 11, 2 St. Francis Catholic 1 (6) 

Class 5A-District 2 Final at Columbia (Lake City) 

1 Columbia (Lake City) 9, 2 Lincoln (Tallahassee) 0


Class 1A-District 6 at Branford

1 Lafayette (Mayo) 9, 2 Union County (Lake Butler) 8

Class 1A-District 7 at Trenton

1 Newberry 1, 2 Trenton 0

Class 1A-District 8 at Wildwood

2 Williston 6, Glades Day (Belle Glade) 3

Class 3A-District 4 at Trinity Catholic (Ocala)

1 Trinity Catholic 10, 3 P.K. Yonge 0 (5)

Class 4A-District 4 at Santa Fe (Alachua) 

2 Tocoi Creek (St. Augustine) 6, 1 Santa Fe (Alachua) 3

Class 6A-District 3 at Fletcher (Neptune Beach)

1 Buchholz 9, 2 Fleming Island (Orange Park) 0

Enjoying our local sports coverage? Get Mike Ridaught's twice weekly sports newsletter in your inbox.
Sports Newsletter Form
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments