FORT MYERS, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - It turned into a tough day for the Panhandle teams in the 1A State Semifinals in Fort Myers Wednesday, with both Sneads and Bozeman finding themselves on the short end of their final scores.
Sneads and Bozeman fall at State in Fort Myers Wednesday. (WJHG)
The Pirates taking on Williston in the first semi, a game that began at 10 a.m. eastern time.
Pirates scored first in the top of the first, Mac Danford drew a walk, moved to third on two infield outs, and scored on a wild pitch.
Pirates starter Colton Mercer was strong early, six up and six down, when Williston got its first base runner, he gets quickly erased when freshman catcher Taylor Brown cut him down trying to steal.
Mercer would, in fact, strike out seven through five hitless innings, and Sneads carried a 1-0. He would then stretch the lead to 2-0 with an RBI single in the top of the 6th that scored Danford.
-But in the bottom of the 6th a nightmare inning for Mercer and Sneads, three hits, a couple of errors and just like that the Red Devils scored four times. That the difference in the game as the Pirates fall 4-2 and see their season end at 20-10.
"I thought Colton did a really good job of pitching his tail off." Sneads head coach Andy Shelton told us afterward. "He got a timely hit there, put us up 2-0 and we gave them some free bases and we don't make a play here and there and all of a sudden it starts snowballing and you look up and you're down."
As for Mercer and the players, even though the trip didn't end the way they wanted it to, it's a trip they'll always remember.
"I mean it was awesome," the senior pitcher told us. "These seniors are my best friends and this is the last high school game I'm ever gonna play with them. And it was fun to stay in the hotel room and crack jokes. It was like the last hurrah for us. We always said one last ride, and we love 'em, and it was a good season and I'm gonna remember it."
As for Bozeman, well it would not be their day either in Fort Myers Wednesday. Like Sneads, the Bucks put up the first run in the top of the first. Cody Herron hit by a pitch, putting runners at first and second. Zack Foster singled to center and that plated Austin Minchew.
Things stopped going the Bucks way in the second. Wyatt Hammond lofted a fly ball to right center that Taylor Gay laid out for it, but couldn't haul it in, a run scored tying the game at one.
The Indians scored two in the third, one in the fourth, and two more in the fifth to lead it 6-1.
In the 6th, Cade Parker came up with the baseball full and just one out, and he scorched one down the line, but the Chiefland third baseman snared it, stepped on the bag doubling the runner at third, ending the inning, and Bozeman's hopes with one play. For Parker, it was a continuation of a stretch of bad luck, his 4th line drive double play in three Bozeman playoff games.
The Bucks fall 7-2, they wind up the season at 27-4.
"We didn't get many breaks, you know?" Coach Jeff Patton told us after the game. "They had a few. We got none. I thought we competed. We were in the mix. It's what we do. These guys are resilient. They just keep playing. If we had gotten one break, who knows how many runs we would have scored."
And as bad as the Bucks may feel in the wake of this loss, it's tough to feel too bad about another incredible season of Bozeman baseball.
"They've held the rope for all the guys that came before them." Patton says "You know this is 13 (playoffs) years in a row for us. You know I don't know who else in the state has a streak like that, I'm sure there's a few of them, but I doubt it's many. So 13 years in a row to get to the playoffs is something special. We won a district championship, we're sharing the county championship, we got the region championship and made it to the final four. We competed our tails off, and it's just a great group of kids."
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