Big Red Bash
at North Georgia
Cass vs. North Hall, noon
Gainesville I vs. West Forsyth, 2:30 p.m.
West Forsyth vs. Gainesville A’s, 5 p.m.
at Chestatee High
Brookwood vs. Union County, 2:30 p.m.
Chestatee vs. Union County, 5 p.m.
Mill Creek vs. Central Gwinnett I, 7:30 p.m.
at Ivey-Watson Field
Archer vs. Central Gwinnett II, 5 p.m.
Central Gwinnett II vs. Gainesville II, 7:30 p.m.
DAHLONEGA—When Gainesville A’s pitcher Andy Edmondson stepped on the mound for his scheduled start Wednesday, he saw plenty of familiar faces enter the batter’s box to face him.
Familiar, because they were Edmondson’s teammates only a few months ago with Gainesville High.
A contest between The A’s and the Red Elephants, the two tenants of Ivey-Watson Field, is possible thanks to the Big Red Bash, a four-day event that features 18 teams from 14 different schools, plus the A’s. Area schools participating include Gainesville, Chestatee, Flowery Branch, Dawson County, North Hall and Jefferson.
Other schools playing came as far as Cass High from Cartersville, along with Gilmer and Union County. Four Gwinnett County schools are involved, including Archer High, which has yet to open, let alone play a game of varsity baseball.
Tournament games are played at Ivey-Watson Field, Chestatee High and North Georgia College & State University’s Bob Stein Stadium.
"Everybody gets to play more people, and it gives us more games to play," said A’s head coach Clay Haynes, who manages the only non-school team in the event. "It’s always fun to play schools you’re familiar with and are around your area."
Although the A’s claim the most experience of any team participating, made up mostly of recent high school graduates and college freshmen, Haynes says the level of competition is even amongst the schools.
The A’s found that out when they trailed Gainesville 5-1 in the fourth inning, before a nine-run sixth inning carried them to a 11-5 win Wednesday in Dahlonega.
"We were really lackadaisical the first few innings, but then the guys decided they wanted to play," Haynes said.
The A’s took an early lead in the first inning off Max Everitt’s RBI single, but the Red Elephants tied the game later in the inning when Sloan Strickland doubled to score Stephen Mason.
Strickland finished the night 2-for-4 and was the only Gainesville hitter with multiple hits.
The Red Elephants took a 2-1 lead in the second inning with one of swing of Daniel Wellborn’s bat, who cleared the college-sized outfield for a solo home run.
The Red Elephants added three more runs in the fourth inning off a two-run double by Spencer Sorrells and Mason’s RBI single.
The A’s erased hitting issues through the first five innings with nine runs in the top of the sixth inning, highlighted by two-run doubles by Kevin Clifford and Travis Rutkiewicz. Cody Ackerman and Ryan Avery also had RBI singles for Gainesville. Two more runs were walked in, another coming on a passed ball.
The inning was reminiscent of the A’s 12-9 win against Rockdale Post 233 last Wednesday, when the A’s scored 10 runs in the seventh inning for to overcome a six-run deficit and win late in the game.
"I can’t explain it. The guys come out and decide they want to hit one inning," Haynes said. "Just because the fence is a little bit farther away doesn’t mean we can’t hit the ball well."
Clifford was walked in during the seventh inning, scoring the final run. He finished the game 2-for-2 with two runs and two RBIs.
Rutkiewicz and Everitt each were 3-for-4. Ackerman was 2-for-3.
James Wilson pitched two shutout innings to earn the win in relief for the A's.
The A’s return to North Georgia at 5 p.m. today to continue play in the Big Red Bash against West Forsyth. Both participating Gainesville teams play today, with Team 1 at North Georgia against West Forsyth at 2:30 p.m. and Team 2 at Ivey-Watson Field against Central Gwinnett’s second team at 7:30 p.m.