North Marion edges Bishop Moore in regional finals

Gottuso's homer gives Colts dramatic win over Hornets

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Posted May 16, 2023 | By Mark Pinson
Special To The Ocala Gazette
Photos By Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette

After falling behind by three runs midway through the game, North Marion stormed back to beat Bishop Moore as senior catcher Bobby Gottuso’s sixth-inning solo home run gave the Colts a thrilling 5-4 win over the Hornets in Tuesday night’s Class 4A-Region 2 finals.

Bishop Moore (Orlando) the No. 3 seed, finished the season with a record of 21-8-1.

The win improved North Marion, the No. 1 seed, to an impressive 25-5 overall. The Colts, who will be making their third appearance in the state Final Four in the last eight years, will play in a state semifinal on Friday at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers.

The come-from-behind victory was sparked by the bat and arm of senior Jake Tompkins, who clubbed a two-run homer and earned the win with three innings of sparkling relief of starter Karson Lindsey.

“An unbelievable ball game,” said North Marion veteran coach Dale Hall. “Bishop Moore is a talented, well-coached team and we just happened to get three big hits that were the difference. I can’t say enough about Jake, his homer got us going and he had ice in his veins on the mound. He threw strikes, filled the zone up and was a lot of fun to watch. We went to the Final Four in 2016 and 2021 and experience can only help us.”

Bishop Moore came out swinging and struck quickly in the top of the first inning as an infield error, a stolen base and an RBI single by Bryce Gluckman gave the Hornets a 1-0 lead.

Bishop Moore tacked on a run in the top of the second inning on a single by Danny Garcia and a run-scoring double by Aaron Reabe off Lindsey. The Hornets added a run in the fourth inning by taking advantage of a base hit and a Colts outfield error to take a 3-0 lead.

North Marion, which had hit a number of balls hard but right at Bishop Moore players, erupted in the bottom of the frame as Ross Ray led off with an infield single off Bishop Moore right-hander Andrew Furey and Tompkins followed with a blast over the left-center field fence.

Gottuso singled and moved to third base on an infield error on a ground ball by Tucker Jones. Jones stole second base and Troy Guynn came through with a single to right field to score Gottuso and Jones to give the Colts a 4-3 lead. Bishop Moore brought Reabe in the game in relief of Furey and he recorded a strikeout and a ground out to end the inning.

The Hornets, who had five hits, wasted no time in mounting a rally as Kai Lwin led off the fifth inning with a double to left field off Lindsey and moved to third on a single by Gluckman. Tompkins replaced Lindsey on the mound and gave up a sacrifice fly to center field by Dom Bello to tie the score at 4.

The score was still tied when Gottuso stepped to the plate to lead off the bottom of the sixth. Gottuso, who transferred from Vanguard this year, crushed a Reabe fastball over the left-field fence to give the Colts a 5-4 lead.

“Right off the bat I knew it was a home run,” Gottuso said. “He quick-pitched me the first pitch and I thought he might do it again. He threw me a fastball and I was ready for it. I love this team and I’m glad I came here.”

North Marion, which had nine hits, looked to have scored an important insurance run in the sixth inning on a base hit by Lindsey, but the runner was called out on a close play at the plate.

Only three outs separated North Marion from clinching a spot in the state semifinals.

Bishop Moore’s Tanner Reid reached second base on a throwing error to lead off the inning. Tompkins, who transferred from Vanguard this year, bore down to strike out the next two batters. An intentional walk to Bello put the go-ahead run on first base and brought up Kort McLean.

Tompkins, who did not give up a hit in his three innings of work, got ahead in the count and fired a third strike past McLean to seal the regional final win for the Colts.

“This is an amazing feeling and I’m blessed to be here,” said Tompkins. “Coach Hall runs a great program and you just have to trust the process.”

North Marion will head to Fort Myers and attempt to win the first state baseball championship in school history.

“I like our chances at state because this team has competed all year and I expect no less on Friday,” coach Hall said.

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