ֱ

HIGH-SCHOOL

Trenton, Lafayette fall in FHSAA Class 1A Semifinals; Buchholz ready for first Fort Myers trip

The FHSAA baseball final four began Wednesday, with three Gainesville area teams down in Fort Myers. Unfortunately, the journey ended for two Wednesday

Noah Ram
Gainesville Sun

Three Gainesville area teams ventured down I-75 to Fort Myers for the FHSAA Baseball Championships.

For two, the journey came to a quick halt, while for the third, it attempts to make history.

Hereֱs what to know:

Trentonֱs bats freeze up under morning sun

Trentonֱs Brant Bivens (1) connects with ball during their game with Bozeman a 1A high school semi final baseball game on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Fort Myers, Fla. (Photo/Chris Tilley)

Trenton kicked off the week in Fort Myers and hoped to shock the world with an upset of 1Aֱs top seed Bozeman.

Unfortunately, the Tigers couldnֱt claw any longer and suffered a season-ending loss to the Bucks.

Tigers coach Chris Marlo said Saturday after their upset at Newberry that the moment wouldnֱt phase his group.

For the first three innings, it remained that way as the Tigers trailed just 2-0 to Bozeman.

However, the Bucks dominated in the fourth and fifth.

Trenton starting pitcher Brant Bivens was pulled in the fourth, but relievers Noah Owens and Alec Faught struggled to get outs.

When it was all said and done, the Bucks garnered eight runs in the two innings and rolled to a 10-0 five inning run rule victory.

On the other side, Trenton failed to generate the clutch hits it got vs Newberry. South Alabama commit Trey Power held THS to just two hits.

Trentonֱs season ends at 13-12 and in the state semifinals for the first time since 2018. With a young roster in place, expect the Tigers to contend in future seasons.

Heartbreak for Lafayetteֱagain

With Newberryֱs elimination, Bozeman and Lafayette appeared clear favorites to meet in Thursdayֱs title game.

But hereֱs the thing about baseballֱseeds donֱt matter in the postseason.

Lafayette pitcher Hyatt Richardson (24) on the mound during a high school class 1A semi final game with Jay on Wednesday, May 15, 2024, in Fort Myers, Fla. (Photo/Chris Tilley)

The Hornets learned that the hard way as they fell to No. 3 seed Jay 4-2 and saw their season end in Fort Myers for the second straight season.

Jay struck first in the top of the third after LHS left runners in scoring position in the first and second innings. The Hornets fought back as pitcher Hyatt Richardson blasted a two RBI double to take a 2-1 lead.

12 outs away, Richardson retook the mound. Unfortunately, he was pulled after an Ethan McDonald RBI double gave the Royals a 3-2 lead.

Jay added an insurance run in the top of the seventh, and with the tying run at first in the bottom of the inning, Richardson lined out to third, ending the Hornets season.

Lafayetteֱs two previous losses both came to Newberry, but now its got a third, and in one round earlier than last season.

LHS lost in the 1A title game to Chipley in 2023.

ֱWeֱll be freer and more relaxedֱ

One Gainesville area team remains after Wednesdayֱs action, and itֱs the big dogs.

Buchholz will take the field from Hammond Stadium Thursday at 10 a.m. vs No. 4 seed Bloomingdale from just outside Tampa.

After last seasonֱs 10-8 season-ending loss, Tuesdayֱs Regional Final vs Hagerty was a good ole fashioned pitchers duel between Buchholz sophomore Aidan Kastensmidt and USF signee Brayden Toro.

In the third inning, Cooper Collins drew a walk for the ֱCats. The shortstop advanced to second on the wild pitch and then scored on a single from Kai So, one of three Buchholz hits on the day.

But behind Kastensmidtֱs excellence, that was enough.

The Bobcats slayed the Huskies 1-0 to advance to their first final four in program history.

ֱIt feels better than I could imagine just because I'll probably get emotional but how much I care about this program,ֱ coach Ron Brooks said.

While Kastensmidt rightfully deserves credit, Buchholzֱs defense set him up for success.

Brooks said the squad played its best defense game of the season, and heֱs right.

Even after Collins committed Buchholzֱs lone error to load the bases in the sixth inning, he responded with a clutch force out at second to keep the score 1-0.

BHS now heads down to Lee County the favorite in 6A. Brooks, though, said the pressure wonֱt phase the squad. In fact, he called Tuesdayֱs game the real pressure point.

ֱI think being able to go down there now I think we'll play much freer and more relaxed to get to this point,ֱ Brooks said. ֱI'm excited, the kids are excited. The job is not done.ֱ

Postgame, Collins, Kastensmidt and Anthony Wilkie all expressed confidence Buchholz can return to Gainesville state champions.

ֱThere's no pressure because, once you get to the final four, every team you play is going to be really good,ֱ Wilkie said. ֱWeֱre going to bring our A game and see what happens.ֱ

Many Buchholz players have suited up at Hammond for travel ball, something Collins believes is an asset.

ֱWe're ranked number one for a reason, so we belong there,ֱ Collins said. ֱWe can just go out there and play our game and good things will happen.ֱ

If Buchholz wins, it will face either Dwyer and Viera Saturday at 11 a.m. for the 6A title.

Noah Ram covers Gainesville-area high school sports and University of Florida athletics for The Gainesville Sun. Contact him atֱNram@gannett.comֱand follow himֱֱon Twitter.