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Tornadoes lose lead, fall to Fort White in district championship

Matt Stanwix-Hay throws the ball in from left field.

Matt Stanwix-Hay throws the ball in from left field.



BY CLIFF SMELLEY

Staff Writer

Fort White scored two runs on errors in the top of the eighth, while pitcher Rhett Willis struck out eight batters in three innings or relief to lead the Indians to a 6-4 win over Bradford in the championship game of the District 5-4A tournament on April 24 in Alachua.

The Tornadoes (16-10) held a 4-3 lead going into the seventh, but Fort White’s Willie Carter launched a home run over the fence in left field to tie the game.

“We just couldn’t close the door,” Bradford head coach Stewart Duncan said.

A fielding error put Fort White’s Brent Beach on with one out in the top of the eighth. Bradford pitcher Caleb Polk struck out the next batter before giving up a single to Jayson Brock, putting runners on the corners. A throwing error on a ground ball by Ryan Ellis allowed the winning runs to score.

It was that kind of night for the Bradford defense, which committed errors in all but three innings.

“They were in this game because of our errors,” Duncan said of Fort White. “We just did not make the plays when we needed to.”

Each team scored a run in the first, with Bradford tying the score on Wyatt Barnes’ RBI single.

The Tornadoes went up 2-1 in the third when Carson Yowell, who reached on a double, scored on Jacob Luke’s sacrifice fly.

Fort White (14-11) tied the score at 2-2 in the fourth, but Bradford pushed two runs across in the fifth. Yowell drew a leadoff walk and advanced on Barnes’ sacrifice bunt before Luke drew a walk. David Hall drilled a single down the first-base line to score both runners.

Barnes and Matt Stanwix-Hay each went 2-for-4.

Stanwix-Hay was the only batter to get a hit off of Willis, who entered the sixth inning in relief of Austin Dupree.

Bradford will now travel for a regional quarterfinal game against the Villages on Thursday, May 1, while Fort White will host Trinity Catholic.

Duncan believes that any team coming out of a tough District 5 has the potential to do well in the regional playoffs. Now, his team is one of two moving on.

“I think we’ve got another game or two in us,” he said.

First baseman Carson Yowell (right) readies himself for a possible pick-off attempt with a Fort White runner on.

First baseman Carson Yowell (right) readies himself for a possible pick-off attempt with a Fort White runner on.

Matt Stanwix-Hay fouls off a pitch in the eighth inning.

Matt Stanwix-Hay fouls off a pitch in the eighth inning.

Jackson Reddish makes a throw from third.

Jackson Reddish makes a throw from third.

Caleb Polk throws a pitch in the seventh inning.

Caleb Polk throws a pitch in the seventh inning.

Head coach Stewart Duncan meets with the infield at the pitcher’s mound. Players pictured (l-r) are Jackson Reddish, Wyatt Barnes, Caleb Polk, Wyatt Collins, Carson Yowell and David Hall.

Head coach Stewart Duncan meets with the infield at the pitcher’s mound. Players pictured (l-r) are Jackson Reddish, Wyatt Barnes, Caleb Polk, Wyatt Collins, Carson Yowell and David Hall.

Zach DeWitt (left) takes a lead at first in the bottom of the eighth.

Zach DeWitt (left) takes a lead at first in the bottom of the eighth.

Shortstop Wyatt Barnes (right) prepares to make a throw to first after getting an out at second. Second baseman Wyatt Collins is also pictured.

Shortstop Wyatt Barnes (right) prepares to make a throw to first after getting an out at second. Second baseman Wyatt Collins is also pictured.

Carson Yowell

Carson Yowell

Jacob Luke

Jacob Luke

Zach DeWitt

Zach DeWitt

Wyatt Collins

Wyatt Collins

Wyatt Barnes

Wyatt Barnes

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