SPRING HILL — Bear Gardner was an ace in the hole for the Frontier League champion Spring Hill Broncos baseball team.
He was lights out on the mound.
Gardner went 5-0 for the Broncos with a 2.054 earned run average.
He had more strikeouts than innings pitched. Gardner fanned 42 batters in 31 innings pitched. He allowed 1.272 walks and hits per inning pitched.
While he struck out 42 batters, Gardner walked just eight. Gardner gave up 32 base hits and allowed nine earned runs.
Gardner was selected the Tri-County Spotlight Baseball Pitcher of the Year.
“Bear was our unquestioned ace of the staff,” Spring Hill coach William Meier said. “He was a big part of the reason why we went undefeated in league play to capture our first league title since the year 2008.
“His ability to attack the zone and consistently work ahead of hitters allowed us to jump on teams early and take control of momentum and the scoreboard,” Meier said.
Gardner did not just give Spring Hill a chance to win every time he took the mound, they did win. He was 5-0 when he started.
He was the most dominant pitcher in the area, Meier said.
“Bear getting pitcher of the year is great, and it is well deserved in my opinion,” Meier said. “Not only was he undefeated in all of his starts, most of the games he pitched in we dominated as every one of his teammates raised their level of play to match Bear’s.
“They knew what he was going to give us every time out,” Meier said. “He was consistently around the zone and attacked hitters to get ahead and hit on his terms.”
Gardner was calm and cool on the mound and simply did not let much bother him, Meier said.
“Even when a runner would find his way on, Bear pitched with composure and trusted his defense to get the outs we needed to get back to the dugout, and let our offense feed off that momentum,” Meier said. “He was a great teammate and very coachable player.”
Gardner fielded his position well. He made 13 putouts with 17 assists and turned three double plays in 38 total chances.
Gardner was not just a great pitcher and competitor, he was a great leader for the Broncos on and off the field, Meier said.
“He was a great player and an even better kid off the field,” Meier said. “He leads by example and has the respect of all of his teammates and opposing players and coaches for that matter as he plays the game the right way.”
Gardner aided his own cause at the plate. He had 10 base hits with three doubles. Gardner drove in seven runs and had 12 runs scored.
He was on base nearly six times per every 10 at bats with an on-base percentage of .593.