Buchholz falls to Forest in extra innings

Published: Friday, April 5, 2013 at 10:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 12:01 a.m.

For the second time this week, Buchholz High School baseball coach Ron Brooks strode out to the mound against Ocala Forest in search of a calming presence for his rattled team.

After digging a three-run hole by the second inning Friday behind starter Andrew MacNeil, the Bobcats looked closer to repeating Tuesday's lopsided defeat to their district rival than pushing the visiting Wildcats to extra innings.

Instead, senior reliever Fowler Brown worked Buchholz (14-6, 1-2 District 7A-1) back into the game by striking out six and keeping Forest scoreless in three of his 5 2/3 innings on the hill. While the Wildcats (16-2, 4-0) eventually sealed their 6-4 win with a two-run homer by senior Jordon Austin in the ninth inning, Brooks credited Brown for sparking his team's rally.

“I think the key was Fowler Brown,” Brooks said. “The way he threw for us. When things could have gone south, he came in there and battled, competed and really showed a lot of character. I'm proud of the way he stabilized things.”

The Bobcats answered Forest's early runs with a second-inning sacrifice fly by outfielder Adam Koff that plated Dakota Turner and an RBI double by fellow senior Brooks Morgan in the third inning to cut the FHS lead to one run.

Junior left fielder Quinlan Washington tied the game at 3-all in the fifth with an RBI single and then helped Buchholz force extra innings in the seventh inning by scoring BHS's fourth run.

“Quinlan did a good job for us, got on base and made some things happen,” Brooks said. “He was productive for us in the leadoff spot and did a good job.”

After being held scoreless in the seventh and eighth innings, however, Forest's bats came alive in the top of the ninth with Ben Ellzey's leadoff single followed by Austin's game-winning homer off BHS closer David Lee.

Though the Bobcats' last six batters were retired in order, Brooks said he was proud of his team's resilience against the district-leading Wildcats.

“We were able to come back and our kids fought their tails off,” Brooks said. “If we compete like that and if we give effort like we did tonight, we'll be fine.”

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