EJ Alvarez

EJ Alvarez had two hits and an RBI, but Suwannee only scored one run off of Bolles' ace Hunter Barco on Thursday.  

LIVE OAK, Fla. — With aces Bo Bonds and Hunter Barco locked in an entertaining pitching battle, the outcome of Thursday’s district game between between Suwannee and Bolles came down to a few crucial moments. 

Barco (six innings, nine strikeouts, one run) pitched his way out of two jams and got some help from his defense as the visiting Bulldogs from Jacksonville defeated SHS 3-1. 

Suwannee had runners on second and third base with one out in the first inning, but couldn’t push across a run. Then in the sixth inning, after SHS had scored one run to cut Bolles’ lead to 2-1, Barco got out of another situation with runners in scoring position.

The final out of the sixth inning came as Bolles second baseman Jack Brady made a sliding stop on Dawson Harrell’s groundball that seemed destined to reach right field. Brady popped up off the ground and threw just in time to first base to retire Harrell.  

Had the ball passed through the infield, it likely would have scored two runs and given Suwannee the lead. 

“We had a couple of plays that just didn’t fall our way,” said Suwannee coach Justin Bruce. “We had two situations with runners in scoring position and less than two outs and that kills you in a baseball game if you don’t get those done. We had a chances to tie or win the game.”

Bonds worked 5 1-3 innings and allowed two runs. He struck out six while surrendering three hits and four walks. Bonds cruised through the first three innings. 

Bolles took a 2-0 lead in the fourth inning with two hits, two walks and a wild pitch. Will Shepherd had the big hit in the frame, an RBI double for the first run of the game.

Bolles maintained that 2-0 advantage until the sixth when EJ Alvarez (2-3, RBI) found a hole in the left side of the infield for a single that scored Trett Wadford.

Drew Law, Ryan LeNeave and Josh Wharton added hits for Suwannee (12-4, 2-1). 

“A positive we can take is that we never gave in and always fought,” Bruce said. “We’ve always played (Barco) tough. We’re a team that’s built on grinding throughout the game. They’ve got to play seven good innings to beat us.”

Harrell pitched 1 1-3 innings in relief of Bonds and struck out two. Jackson Baumeister picked up the save for Bolles. He struck out all three hitters he faced in the seventh inning.


Bolles (14-2, 3-0) hosts Suwannee tonight in Jacksonville in the final district game of the regular season for both teams.


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Mike Jones is a sports writer for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press in North Florida.