Gainesville High is displaying the identity of a red-hot program more than willing to match the pace in a tight Region 8-6A baseball race.
After entering this week in a three-way tie for first with Winder-Barrow and Lanier, the Red Elephants join the Bulldoggs atop the league standings Wednesday.
A solid pitching outing by Kyle York on top of a four-run bottom of the fifth belittled a late Lanier rally in the Red Elephants’ 5-4 win in the second of the Region 8-6A series at Ivey Watson Field.
The Red Elephants (15-6, 6-2 Region 8-5A), winners of six-straight, are on the cusp of a second-consecutive sweep as they close out the series at 5:55 p.m. Friday in Sugar Hill.
Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp gave praise to his steady pitching rotation to include Collier Scott and York on top of a more commanding presence at the plate in its turnaround since dropping two of three games to Winder-Barrow last month.
York backed his coach with an explanation of his own.
“We’re picking up the intensity,” said York, who earned the win from the mound. “We’re getting better as a team. We care about each other. ..This win built more momentum.”
After blanking Lanier (14-9, 5-3) 11-0 in five-innings in the opener two days prior, that success was not as apparent in Game 2. The Red Elephants loaded the bases twice against Longhorns pitcher Will Hausknect as early as the bottom of the first, though, only saw Collier Scott score off a wild pitch for a 1-0 lead, and were 0 for 6 with runners in scoring position during the first four frames.
Charlie Wall (1 for 2, 3 RBI) ended his team’s slump in the bottom of the fifth with a one-out, bases-clearing double to right-center to score Banks Griffith (3 for 4), Collier Scott (1 for 2) and Jared Smith. Dalton Kyle ended the spurt with a RBI single to plate Wall two batters later and stretch Gainesville’s lead to 5-0.
“We’re getting people on base, making pitcher’s work and we’ve done a good job of lately,” said Kemp, who has watched his order hit .346 and score 51 runs in the streak.
“I’m proud that our guys keep getting better.”
The right-handed hurler York, who gave most credit to the guys behind him on the diamond, still put together a solid performance to offset his team’s start. York tossed 6⅔ innings of shutout ball with seven strikeouts, even retiring 11-straight after giving up a leadoff single in the top of the second. York had only yielded a pair of hits before the seventh inning and was on his way to a complete-game gem before Lanier mounted its rally.
The Longhorns tallied all four of their runs with two outs, including a two-run homer by Jadyn Jackson to make it a one-run game and end York’s night. Sidearm relief pitcher Jay Hinshaw cleaned things up two batters later as he scooped up a slow-chopper toward the mound and calmly threw to his first baseman for the final out.