Keith MacPherson, Sports Editor
GAINESVILLE — Farewell Locke Field.
The final out was made at the historic ballpark built in 1947 and Gainesville had one last chance to relish having one of the nicest prep baseball stadiums in the state as the Leopards fell to Bridgeport 7-0 on Saturday.
Gainesville City Council voted to demolish the historic stadium, which as hosted Gainesville High School, NCTC and numerous tournaments through the years, in favor of a future apartment complex despite a strong opposition from citizens last fall.
There was a brief ceremony before the game honoring the stadium and the legacy it has left behind on the city. Former Gainesville coach and player Lloyd Nichols, class of 1955, as well as long-time supporter and summer league coach Charley Henderson, class of 1967, were on hand to throw out the first pitch. Both tossed a strike.
While fans said goodbye to Locke Field, there wasn’t too much to cheer about for Leopard fans on the field itself.
Gainesville was baffled by Bridgeport pitcher Reese Read, who pitched a complete game two-hitter for the Bulls. Read finished with eight strikeouts and one hit by pitch.
Gainesville had a chance to get things going in the second inning after Tag Sparks led off with a single. Two batters later, Sparks was thrown out at home on a relay from Bridgeport centerfielder Jake Hulsey on a single by Dillon Schroeder.
Schroeder and Sparks were the only Leopards to reach base by a hit. Landon Bond reached in the fifth on an error and Jordan Hall reached on a hit by pitch.
Chance Sikes took the loss for Gainesville, going 5 2/3 innings while striking out seven batters and allowing six earned runs.
Bridgeport struck for three runs in the second inning thanks largely to a two-run single by Dalton Hudson. The Bulls would add another in the fourth inning on a single from Dillon Waldrip to make it 4-0 at the time.
The Bulls added two runs in the sixth inning. Read hit a triple into the right-centerfield gap to score Alex Samples. Read would then score on a wild pitch.
Samples later drove in Erik Delgadillo in the top of the seventh inning to make it 7-0.
Hudson paced the Bulls, going 3 for 4 with three RBIs. Read was 1 for 5 with a triple and an RBI while Samples was 1 for 3 with two runs scored.
The game was the largest attendance of the year at Locke Field as Gainesville residents turned out to support the stadium. Many fans showed up with camera in hand to get one last shot of the stadium.