Inner-city matchups can bring the best out of teams, and that was the case Friday night when the Buchholz Bobcats hosted the Gainesville Hurricanes. After going into extra innings the night before, which Buchholz won on a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the eighth, expectations were high for Friday’s game.
Gainesville was floating just above sea level with their 11-10 record. They managed to pull off a huge eight game winning streak in the middle of the season but were in the midst of their third losing streak of the season.
Buchholz was running on a four-game win streak despite a tough schedule where seventeen of their twenty-two games were against teams with a winning record.
The series was owned by the Bobcats, who are 18-6 against Gainesville since 2008. However, Gainesville’s last win came at Buchholz in 2017. The Hurricanes were also 6-3 on the road coming in while the Bobcats were 5-4 at home.
Buchholz struck early in the bottom of the first. Corbin Grantham got on with a one-out walk and was knocked home with a single from Austin Akey for a 1-0 lead.
The Bobcats weren’t done, though. They lite up the bottom of the second with four runs. Matt Moss led off with a walk. Parker Green and Josh Fowler followed with back-to-back singles to bring Moss home. Fowler was thrown out at second, but a ball put in play by Caden Kresak scored Green.
Corbin Grantham was then hit by a pitch to put two runners on. Akey grounded out to first, which brought Kresak home. A double by Wesley Avery brought Grantham brought the Bobcat lead to 5-0.
Things looked bleak for Gainesville, but they responded well in the top of the third. Logan Carlisle started with a walk. Seth Cox also eventually was walked to have two runners on with two outs. Zeb Marquis hit Carlisle home.
Cox then scored on an error, bringing Marcus Aular to the plate with a runner on. He hit an absolute bomb to straightaway center for a two-run shot and brought Gainesville to within one of Buchholz as they trailed 5-4.
The game would go quiet until the top of the seventh. Luke Matthews got on with a walk and moved to second on a wild pitch. Zeb Marquis hit a strong grounder to the short stop who bobbled it and allowed Matthews to score the tying run.
Extra innings looked all but certain until the Hurricane defense fell apart. Up until the bottom of the seventh, they had no errors on the game. A solid performance. With the game on the line, the pressure got to them.
Dario Astudillo got on from a wild throw by the catcher to first. Cole Howard hit a ground ball to short, who tried to throw to second and get Astudillo out but was called safe. Moss steped up and hit a weak ball back to the pitcher. He grabbed it and threw to third to try and get the lead runner but overthrew the third baseman. Left fielder Nick Sopko charged the ball hard and made a laser of a throw home but Astudillo just beat the throw to win the game for the Bobcats, 6-5.
Howard picked up the win for the Bobcats. He took over in the top of the fifth and pitched two and two-thirds innings allowing one hit, one unearned run and striking out three. Akey had two RBIs and Grantham added two runs.
Aular contributed two RBIs and a run for the Hurricanes. Zeb Marquis also had one run and an RBI. Buchholz (15-8) takes a few days off before playing Keystone Heights at home. Gainesville (11-11) hosts Newberry for the start of three straight home games.