LIVE OAK, Fla. — The Suwannee baseball team is going to Fort Myers and the Final Four.
The Bulldogs defeated Walton 8-2 at Booster Field on Wednesday to clinch a spot in a state semifinal.
Drew Law pitched a complete game, the SHS defense made some slick plays, and every player in the Bulldogs’ starting lineup reached base at least once. With the win, Suwannee is back in a Final Four for the first time since 1967.
“This is one of those things that will be talked about for a long time,” said SHS coach Justin Bruce. “Tonight was good for everybody — the guys and the community. Everyone gets a piece of it. The senior class to play their last home game on this field and now going to state, it’s beautiful.”
Walton (19-11) took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning after Kentrell Parker singled, stole second and then came home on an Austin Thacker RBI single. Suwannee responded with three runs in the bottom of the third and never surrendered the lead after that. Josh Wharton sparked the offense in the frame with an infield single that managed to score two runs.
The Bulldogs took advantage of back-to-back WHS errors in the bottom of the fifth inning and scored three runs. With that big inning, which included a bases-loaded walk and a wild pitch that scored a run, Suwannee went ahead 7-2.
Law was impressive throughout, throwing strikes and letting his defense shine. He allowed just four hits and one earned run. Third baseman Trett Wadford made two nice plays in the third inning. He then made a diving play and strong throw to first base to retire the first hitter of the fifth inning.
Wharton, playing second base, also showed some range on defense with a diving play and throw in the seventh inning.
“The nerves were kind of building up. I had to calm it down, throw strikes and worry about getting the first pitch,” said Law, who has earned the victory on the mound in two of Suwannee’s three postseason wins. “In the fifth inning, coach Dan (Tillman) told me to start competing and I really started to turn it on.”
Added Law about advancing to Fort Myers: “There’s no other feeling like it. It’s believable.”
Marquis Jones and Dalton Croft reached base three times and scored one run apiece for SHS. Bo Bonds, one of seven senior starters, went 1-3 with one run scored. Ronnie Layton had two hits and Wadford had a triple.
Suwannee (22-9) will face Melbourne Central Catholic on Wednesday, May 29.
“I just want the guys to soak the experience up,” Bruce said of playing in Fort Myers. “Every player plays for that moment. Be able to make memories forever.
“We’re going to play some good teams. We played some good teams to get to this point. We’re going in playing the best baseball we’ve played five or six games in a row.”