Hunter Anglin is taking every opportunity he can get to be a top contributor for the Gainesville pitching staff once again.
The Red Elephants senior has dealt with setbacks on the mound after battling a dead arm, but he proved Monday night against Loganville that his pitching ability is alive and well.
Entering as a reliever in the fifth inning, Anglin shut the door on the Red Devils by allowing no hits and striking out six of the nine batters he faced to preserve Gainesville’s 3-2 win in a pivotal Region 8-AAAAA contest between two of Class AAAAA’s most highly-regarded teams.
The former Red Elephants starter has been limited to late-game roles this season due to the tiring of his arm. Monday’s win may have secured his team a region title, as Gainesville (19-2, 11-1) now holds a two-game lead over Loganville (18-4, 9-3) in the region standings with four games left to play in the regular season.
“I feel like where I’m back to where I used to be,” Anglin said. “A lot went down with my arm, and it just went dead. I feel like it’s finally rejuvenated. I feel that I have my confidence completely back and that fire that I used to have.”
Not a moment too soon. The second game of a series featuring two teams that have been listed among the nation’s best throughout the season, the Red Elephants completed the sweep after defeating Loganvile 5-3 on Friday.
Using three early-game solo home runs as his only run support, Anglin confidently kept the Red Devils’ hitters at bay to earn the save. He shook off a balk three batters into his appearance, which brought Loganville’s deficit to one when David Chabut was awarded a free pass home.
He then narrowly avoided a showdown with one of the nation’s top high school prospects, Clint Frazier, in the seventh inning by taking care of the side and leaving a potential game-tying home run in the on-deck circle.
“I’ll give it to Clint — he’s a great hitter,” Anglin said. “I’ve seen him and heard about him. Clint would be a last resort to come to, but if I go in scared, he’s likely to come out on top. I have to put myself in his kind of mindset.”
It was a performance electric enough to make Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp consider adding Anglin back to the rotation.
“He had a little impediment at the beginning of the year, but he’s fine now,” Kemp said. “We’ve worked this pitch count up to where we could start him, but how could you not love that role that he’s in right there? That was fun to watch.”
The Red Elephants demonstrated their power at the plate with a pair of home runs in the bottom of the first, including a leadoff shot by Michael Gettys.
Caleb Whitenton, who went 2 for 3 on the evening and was Gainesville’s lone batter with multiple hits, rounded the bases three at-bats later to give his team a 2-0 lead. No. 9 hitter Luke Maddox arced a high-fly ball over the right-field fence in the third to cap off the Red Elephants’ scoring for the game.
“I don’t know what’s going on,” Kemp said. “There’s something in the water, but we’re going to make sure we keep drinking it.”
Jonathan Gettys picked up the win for Gainesville, pitching four innings with five strikeouts, three walks and three hits allowed. The freshman absorbed both of Loganville’s runs, including Chabut’s RBI single in the second inning that put the Red Devils on the scoreboard for the first time.
He encountered relatively little traffic on the basepaths, but was pulled in the fifth with Frazier at bat and runners on first and second and no outs.
“That was pretty impressive — a freshman coming in there and throwing like that against the No. 8-ranked team in the nation,” Kemp said. “He held it close, turned it over to Hunter and Hunter did a heck of a job.”
David Mayo took the loss for Loganville, allowing five hits and three runs with four strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings of work. Daniel Milligan threw the final 2 1/3 innings, also fanning four.
Chabut finished the day as the Red Devils’ most successful hitter, going 2 for 3 with a run and an RBI. Frazier went 0 for 2.
Gainesville is back at Ivey-Waston Field at 5:55 p.m. Wednesday to start a region series with Flowery Branch.