Sonic Drive-In Player-of-the-Game for April 26 – Cole Howard (Buchholz)
The Sonic Drive-In Player-of-the-Game for Friday, April 26, was Cole Howard of the Buchholz (Gainesville) baseball team.
Howard, a senior, picked up his second decision as a relief pitcher in as many nights against city rival Gainesville as the host Bobcats won another thriller, 6-5, over GHS on a walk-off error by the Hurricanes in the bottom of the 7th inning.
Buchholz had won at Gainesville 6-2 on Thursday night on a grand slam by Parker Green in the 8th inning. This time the Bobcats let a big early lead slip away before pulling off the season sweep of the city rival Hurricanes.
Howard entered in the 5th inning in relief of Buchholz starter Caden Kresak with the Bobcats clinging to a 5-4 lead.
The Santa Fe College commit allowed only one hit and an unearned run while striking out three to earn the save. Howard entered in the 7th inning of Thursday night’s game and held the Hurricanes at bay until Green hit his grand slam shot in the 8th to pick up the win in relief.
The Bobcats jumped out to an early lead in the first inning as junior Austin Akey drove in junior Corbin Grantham with an RBI single.
Buchholz added a four-run second inning off Gainesville starter Logan Carlisle. The Bobcats put together four hits around a walk and shole three bases in the inning. Akey had another RBI on a groundout and senior Wesley Avery crushed an RBI double off the fence in left-center and it appeared Buchholz was in control with a 5-0 lead after two innings.
But Carlisle settled down and Gainesville started chipping away.
The Hurricanes came right back with four runs in the top of the third, all with two outs.
Zeb Marquis brought in the first run on a single down the right field line, then a Kresak throwing error on a pickoff attempt to first base got GHS within 5-2.
Senior Marcos Aular then knocked a two-run homer to straight away center field and the Hurricanes were within one at 5-4.
The score stayed the same all the way until the top of the 7th. With two outs and tying run Luke Matthews at third base, Zeb Marquis hit a ground ball that was booted for an error by the shortstop Akey. Matthews scored as Gainesville tied it 5-5.
The Hurricanes hadn’t committed an error the entire game, but their defense fell apart in the bottom of the 7th.
Dario Astudillo began the inning reaching on a ball hit right in front of the plate as GHS catcher Brian Meert threw wide to 2nd base. Howard then hit a grounder to short that was bobbled and Astudillo beat the throw to second on an attempted force out.
Matt Moss followed with a bunt, and Zeb Marquis, who entered in relief of Carlisle in the sixth inning, tried to force out Astudillo at third but threw the ball down the left field line. Astudillo beat the throw home for the winning run for Buchholz.
The Bobcats won their fifth game in a row and are now 15-8 on the season. They have beaten Gainesville four times in a row and 13 of the last 16. Buchholz closes its regular season with home games next Tuesday against Keystone Heights and Thursday for Senior Night versus Williston.
Gainesville is 11-11 after dropping its third straight game. The Hurricanes have three home games remaining next week against Newberry, Santa Fe (Alachua), and Eastside (Gainesville).
Both teams will host their respective district tournaments the following week.
Every game The Prep Zone will recognize a Player-of-the-Game. The recipient receives a $10 gift certificate courtesy of Sonic Drive-In of Gainesville & Ocala.