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Prep baseball: Henry leads Falcons over Gainesville

POSTED: March 26, 2008 5:01 a.m.
Scott Rogers/The Times

Gainesville High pitcher Zach Bennett delivers a pitch for the Red Elephants during the first inning of Friday afternoon's game with Flowery Branch High at Ivey-Watson Field.

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GAINESVILLE — The baseball season is still young, but Flowery Branch High is certainly asserting itself as a contender early on.

The Falcons (6-0, 2-0 Region 7-AAA) won at Ivey-Watson Field for only the second time in school history with a 5-1 victory over Gainesville on Friday night. The last time Flowery Branch won at Ivey-Watson was during its region championship run in 2005.

"We know if we have a chance to win region we’re going to have to win in big games like this," Flowery Branch coach Jimmy Lawler said. "I’m very pleased with the intensity our team played with tonight, and that they competed so well for seven innings."

Once again, Falcons senior Patrick Henry was clutch on the mound. He allowed seven hits to the Red Elephants (2-4, 1-1), but was at his best with runners on base. He pitched out of a bases loaded situation in the third inning by getting Gainesville’s hitter to fly out to center field.

The Red Elephants also stranded a pair of runners in scoring position in both the fifth and sixth innings.

"I just love the pressure on the mound," Henry said. "That’s the best thing about pitching is that it’s a one-on-one situation with just me and the hitter."

Henry, a Valdosta State signee, still hasn’t allowed an earned run in 15 Ã innings work this season, including a no-hitter against Lakeview Academy in the Flowery Branch Invitational. He ran his count to 31 strikeouts on the season with 12 against the Red Elephants.

"Patrick’s change-up was really good tonight, and really maintained his velocity," Lawler added.

"Patrick was a battler for them tonight," Gainesville coach Wayne Vickery said. "But I feel like the bottom line is we had runners at first and second, or second and third six times and only scored one run.

"We just couldn’t get the timely hits tonight."

Henry also got it done at the plate for the Falcons. He had a bloop single to short right field to load the bases in the third inning for the Falcons and scored on an RBI by Jordan Wilson.

Henry finished the game 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs scored. Greg Palmer was 2-for-3 with a walk and an RBI double in the seventh inning that scored Travis Coxworth.

Wilson finished the night 1-for-3 with an RBI double in the first inning that scored Henry.

"Our team is off to a very good start," Henry said. "I think this is probably one of the most important regular season games of the year, because by the next time we play Gainesville we want to already have a playoff spot secured.

"We have such a senior team, with 10 seniors, that it was so important for us to go out on top in our last game at Ivey-Watson."

Gainesville’s Zach Bennett followed his three home run performance from Wednesday night with two hits and an RBI single on Friday night. Adam Parker also added two hits for the Red Elephants.

Gainesville catcher Robby Hefflinger had the Red Elephants’ only extra base hit with a first inning double. Justin Fordham, Sloan Strickland and Blaine Martin each had a single for Gainesville.

"This season is going to be a 22-game marathon, and we’re just getting started," Vickery said. "I don’t think anyone is going to go 22-0, so we’ve just got to get ready to play another big one on Monday (North Hall)."

Gainesville visits North Hall at 5:30 p.m. on Monday at Jody Davis Field. Flowery Branch plays host to East Hall at 5:30 p.m. on Monday at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex.



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