If you tried to make the case that summer baseball was just as much about battling the heat as playing strong fundamentally, the Gainesville A’s probably wouldn’t object to that point.
All week the local travel baseball team dealt with temperatures that hit the low 90’s in the Big Red Bash baseball tournament.
"The guys definitely tried hard out there this week, but yeah it’s been really hot," A’s coach Clay Haynes said Saturday after finishing the tournament with a 2-2 mark.
The score of the tournament’s final game got out of hand early, despite a late rally from Dawsonville. Gainesville put up eight runs in the top of the first inning at Ivey-Watson Field, then held on for an 8-5 win. Gainesville catcher Bucky Free, a recent Flowery Branch High grad, tried to put the weather out of mind and just focus on playing baseball. Still, that’s probably easier said than done wearing approximately 30 pounds of equipment, and with a bright sun beating down on his brow.
"It’s definitely real mental behind the plate, but you just have to be focused," Free said. "If you’re not paying attention, you could cost the team a run."
A’s starting pitcher Max Everitt earned the win, throwing five innings and allowed six hits to Dawsonville. Then Matt Pilgrim came in the game and threw two scoreless innings to earn the save.
After Dawsonville scored three in the bottom of the fifth inning, they only managed to get one more runner on base the remainder of the game.
In turned out, that Gainesville’s eight first-inning runs were going to be enough to sustain victory. The A’s utilized four hits, five walks (four consecutive at the bottom of the order) and sent 12 batters to the plate in the first.
Brad Stone started the game with a walk, followed by a single from James Wilson at the top of the order. Everitt drove in a run with a single, Cody Ackerman reached on an error that scored another run, then Free walked to load the bases.
Then Andy Edmondson, Jordan Wilson and Ryan Farmer all drew bases on balls to bring in runs. Before the inning was over, Stone and James Wilson added RBI singles.
Stone and James Wilson each finished the game with two hits for the A’s.
Dawsonville rebounded with a pair of runs in the third inning after loading the bases. Dawsonville scored all three runs in the fifth inning with two outs.
"We played real focused early, then it seemed like we just put it in cruise control," Free said.
Gainesville plays host to Dawsonville again at 7 p.m. Monday at Ivey-Watson Field.