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Bobcats boys win district title

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After a one-year hiatus, the Munroe Bobcats are once more FHSAA District 1-2A champions after defeating arch-rival Aucilla for the third time this season 6-5. 

The Bobcats won three consecutive district crowns in 2010, 2011 and 2012 before being bounced in the opening game of the tournament last season. With the victory, the Bobcats also reached 20 wins for the season, as their record improved to 20-5. 

“We’re very proud to reach these two points in one season,” said Bobcat Coach Jayme Williams. “I can’t say enough about how hard our kids have worked. They are very deserving.”

Munroe reached the final game as the top seed in the district by virtue of a perfect 6-0 regular season record against district foes FAMU, Tallavana and Aucilla. The Bobcats began the contest as if it would be a blowout, quickly jumping on top 6-1 after three innings. 

An RBI double by Bradley Klees, an RBI single by Bo Bailey and RBIs by Will Harris and Johnny Walkup provided the early offensive punch. But the host Warriors had other ideas and closed to 6-2 with a single run in the fourth. That score would hold for two more innings until Aucilla began a seventh inning rally that closed the gap to 6-5. 

“We knew we’d get their best shot,” said Williams. “We felt like managing our pitching would be a key and it turned out in our favor.” 

Starting pitcher Casey Mathers, who had scattered seven hits to go along with two runs prior to the seventh, began to tire and eventually gave way to reliever Nolan Haire with two outs and runners on first and third in the one-un game. Haire coaxed a ground ball to Mathers, who moved from the mound to shortstop, and after relaying to Harris at second for the final out, the Bobcats and their fans began their celebration. 

“This is something our guys wanted after last season,” Williams exclaimed, “and our fan support was phenomenal.”

Offensively, the Bobcats outhit the Warriors 10 to nine. Leading the way at the plate for Munroe was Nolan Haire with three hits (one run) and Bradley Klees with two (two RBIs, one run). Bo Bailey (two RBIs), Will Harris (one RBI, one run), Johnny Walkup (one RBI, one run), Stephen Miller (one run), and Casey Mathers (one run) added one hit each. Harris and Mathers also had a stolen base. Mathers was the pitcher of record, striking out three, walking one and surrendering nine hits while improving to 7-3 for the season. Haire picked up the save. 

“It got a little more interesting than we would have liked toward the end,” said Williams. “But we hung on and finished the job. We’ll host Cedar Creek Christian from Jacksonville this Thursday in the first round of the regionals. We’re excited to be in the playoffs and look forward to our first round match-up.” 

The Saints, runners-up in District 2-2A, enter the post-season with a 19-10 record and bat a gaudy .374 as a team. They have also scored 234 runs (8.0 per game) while giving up only 67 (2.3 per game). First pitch is set for 7 p.m. at Bradford May Field.