North Marion Colts head to Final Four

North Marion players dogpile on top of each other after they defeated Baker County 6-0 in the FHSAA Class 4A Region 1 final at North Marion High School in Sparr, Fla. on Wednesday, May 19, 2021. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2021.

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Posted May 19, 2021 | By Kassidy Hill, Special to the Ocala Gazette

North Marion players dogpile on top of each other after they defeated Baker County 6-0 in the 4A FHSAA Region final at North Marion High School on Wednesday. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette]

The North Marion Colts defeated the Baker County Wildcats 6-0 on Wednesday night to advance to the 4A FHSAA Final Four.

It’s the Colt’s first trip to the state semifinals since 2016.

Pitcher Wyatt Campbell started the game on the mound for the Colts, and made quick work of the Wildcats, going three up, three down to retire the side. 

The Colts offense also showed a spark early as lead-off batter Gavin Miller drew a walk then stole second. A sacrifice bunt from Eli Garcia sent Miller to third. But he stalled there as Baker County’s Easton Stevens struck out the next two batters to end the inning.  

After back-to-back plays by right fielder Donny Salguero to get two outs in the top of the second, Campbell walked a batter. Then the Wildcats Brady Chauncey hit into the right field hole. He looked to have an easy base hit; but a heads-up play from shortstop and Florida Gators commit Deric Fabian got the ball back to first where Chauncey, who overran the base, was tagged out. 

In the bottom of the third with the score still tied at nil, North Marion’s Salguero drew a lead-off walk. After advancing to second, he stole third, then watched as the Colts racked up their second out. With Fabian at the plate, Wildcats pitcher Stevens threw a ball in the dirt and the Colts took advantage. Salguero came home for the first score of the night. 

Two pitches later, Fabian sent one to deep left field for a solo home run. 

“Deric is a force in the box,” said Colt’s head coach Dale Hall. “He’s got great pop. I mean there’s a reason why he’s going to the University of Florida, he’s a special player. A home run in that situation—we get the pass ball to go up one to nothing, and then, you know, Deric does a really good job of being patient and getting good pitches to hit.” 

In the bottom of the fifth, the Colts chased Stevens off the mound, after Wyatt Campbell hit a double into center driving in three runs to give the Colts a 5-0 lead.

Karson Smith, pinch running for Campbell, scored from there as Cooper Jones put one in right field to extend the lead to 6-0.

“It’s a very tight ballgame, things can definitely change in a matter of one or two swings when you’re up two to nothing, but to get that huge double out of Wyatt Campbell right there—a bases clearing double that put us up five to zero and then Cooper Jones with another good at bat, driving in a run—made all the difference in the world,” Hall said.

Heading into the sixth, Campbell faced just three batters, thanks to support from his shortstop Fabian. After Campbell struck out the first batter, Fabian had back-to-back highlight worthy plays, catching two low line drives on his back. 

“I think his defensive play gets overlooked a little bit because he is such an amazing offensive player, but he just doesn’t get enough credit for what he does in the field,” Hall said. 

Campbell pitched a six-strikeout complete game. His teammates rushed him after the last out, burying him under a dogpile.  

The Wildcats finished their season with a 15-16 record.

The Colts (20-8) next play at 4 p.m. on May 24 against Nature Coast Tech in Fort Myers at Jet Blue Stadium.  

“These guys have worked extremely hard. I couldn’t be more proud of them. We work all year long for this. I mean, obviously we’re not done. We went to the Final Four in 2016…we’re looking to go down there and make a little history for our school and try to compete for a state championship.”

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