Bulldogs advance to Final Four

The Gainesville Bulldogs take on the Portageville Bulldogs at 10 a.m., Monday, May 30 at U.S. Ballpark in Ozark. Members of the team, are, from left, (front row) Logan Hillhouse, Brady Myers, Jake Leeker, Bryce Hambelton, Landry Jenkins, Wyatt Alms, Camden Evans, Isaac Pippin; (back row) Assistant Coaches Austin Thompson and Josh Richer, Kannon Morrison, Jarrett Hogan, Daden House, Hunter Luna, Nathan Kiger, Andrew Hambelton, Bryson Martin, Carter Wise, Briar Walrath, Aden Yarger and Head Coach Blake Hobbs. Photo by Karla Smith Photography
“I’m proud of these boys. I”m so thankful God has allowed me to coach 14 more innings with them. Our job isn’t done though.” GHS Coach Blake Hobbs

The Gainesville Bulldogs are headed to the first baseball Final Four in school history after defeating the Marionville Comets 2-1 Wednesday, May 25 at Parkview High School in Springfield.

Wyatt Alms hit the go-ahead 2-run home run in the third inning. “Wyatt is a clutch hitter,” said GHS Coach Blake Hobbs. “He stepped up last year, and he did it again this year. Sometimes you don’t have to have 10 plus runs to win.”

Andrew Hambelton and Jake Leeker combined to throw a three-hitter. “Andrew has been our guy on the mound all season long. Talk about a sophomore who trusts his team mates behind him. He just goes out and competes,” Hobbs said. “When it got tight, and I saw he was struggling, I went to Jake Leeker. I told Jake to not be afraid to work the hitters backward. Jake showed out on the mound, and that’s why we are where we are.”

Gainesville fans packed the bleachers at Parkview ball field to watch the Bulldogs compete for a chance to make history by being the first baseball team to reach the Final Four of the MSHSAA state baseball championship. The last time Gainesville High School athletes competed at that level was in 2005 when the Lady Bulldogs basketball team finished third. Prior to that, Gainesville teams who reached the final four were the girls basketball teams in 1981 and 1982,  the girls softball team in 1976 and the boys basketball team in 1957.

The Bulldogs made it the quarterfinals last year, but lost a close 2-0 contest to Marionville, so the Gainesville boys were looking to avenge that loss and continue their season. “I told the boys ‘You get revenge. You guys need to get revenge right here. They’re ready for you guys,’” Hobbs told OzarksSportsZone.com reporter Michael Cignoli after the win. “We knew we had to give everything we’ve got. I knew we had to throw strikes. But the boys were hungry. They knew what they needed to do. They knew they needed to step up.”

And they did, earning them a chance to continue their season and lock up the best finish of any sports team in school history when they take on the Portageville Bulldogs at 10 a.m., Monday, May 30. At US Ballpark in Ozark for the Class 2 State Semifinal.

“I’m proud of these boys,” Hobbs said. “I”m so thankful God has allowed me to coach 14 more innings with them. Our job isn’t done though.”

Tickets to the game must be purchased online. Go to https://www.mshsaa.org/CMSPages/Tickets.aspx.

Ozark County Times

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