Gainesville Bulldogs advance to Class 2 quarterfinals

Photo by Karla Smith The Gainesville Bulldogs were all smiles after winning their second consecutive district championship when they defeated the Seymour Tigers Tuesday, May 17. The Bulldogs went on to defeat Plato on Monday, May 23, winning their second consecutive sectional championship. They head to Marionville to take on the Comets in quarterfinal action at 6 p.m. today, May 25 at Marionville.

The Gainesville Bulldogs baseball team won the Class 2 District 10 championship on Tuesday, May 17, then topped it off with a sectional win over Plato Monday, marking the second consecutive year for the team to advance to the quarterfinals of the Class 2 state tournament. The wins set up a state quarterfinal rematch with reigning Class 2 state champions Marionville Comets at 6 p.m. today, Wednesday, May 25 at Marionville City Park. The Bulldogs are looking to avenge last year’s 2-0 loss in the quarterfinals.

“I’m very excited for some redemption,” Gainesville coach Blake Hobbs said. “The boys are excited for the rematch, and I think it will be a very fun and exciting matchup.”

It had been 30 years since the Bulldogs won a district title when the team brought home a district win last year under the leadership of then-new coach Blake Hobbs. The Bulldogs went on to add another note to the school’s history books when they won the first sectional championship since 1978. After the season ended, Hobbs and his Bulldogs were looking forward to making their mark again this year. “We have the potential to be a very tough team to beat, especially if we keep improving,” Hobbs told the Times in 2021. “The boys have started to build a culture of winning this year, and we will look to add on to that next year.”

This season, they did just that, and after Monday night’s sectional win, the Bulldogs hold a 21-6 record as they head to the quarterfinals.


Class 2, District 10

The Bulldogs traveled to Seymour Tuesday, May 17 to take on the Tigers for the district championship and came away with a 3-2 victory. Hobbs said it was a tough game. “We came back from behind twice,” Hobbs added. “It shows the fight these boys have in them.”

Gainesville batters stepped up in crucial moments with the long ball, Hobbs said. Bryce Hambelton hit a game-tying home run in the fourth inning, then Aden Yarger hit another game-tying home run in the fifth. “Wyatt Alms showed what hustle can do on the baseball field,” Hobbs added “He crushed a one-hopper ground ball at the third baseman and forced a throwing error, then he forced two more throwing errors which allowed him to score the winning run.”

On the mound, Andrew Hambelton pitched five innings, only allowing 2 runs. Senior Jake Leeker threw two innings, allowing 0 runs and striking out five of the six batters he saw.


Class 2, Sectional 5

Rain rolled into Gainesville Monday afternoon, but it wasn’t enough to postpone the much-anticipated sectional battle between the Bulldogs and the Plato Eagles. The game started a few minutes late due to wet conditions, but the crowd didn’t seem to mind waiting while superintendent Justin Gilmore, Todd Luna, coach Blake Hobbs, assistant coach Austin Thompson and several of the players helped get the field ready.

Gainesville senior Jake Leeker, first in the batting line-up, set the tone for the game, hitting a home run off Plato’s second pitch. Daden House stepped up to the plate next,  and he knocked one out of the park, too. “Let’s just say, I don’t think you can start it any better,” Hobbs said. 

 The big blow came when Wyatt Alms hit a grand slam in the third inning, bringing the score to 6-0.

“Bryce Hambelton was dominant on the mound,” Hobbs said. “He went six innings, allowed 4 runs, struck out 11 and only gave up 2 hits. Jake Leeker came in and closed it out for us.”

The Bulldogs won the sectional title 8-4.

“Do I think we played our best game? No, I don’t, but I believe this time of year, it just matters who is on top at the end.”

Ozark County Times

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