It gave Michael Gettys a good feeling to know that the rest of the Gainesville High baseball program had so much confidence in his abilities from the start as a power-hitting outfielder and dominating pitcher in 2012. The Red Elephants’ sophomore spent the rest of the season proving that their trust wasn’t misplaced on a team loaded with talent for the eventual Class AAA state semifinalists.
“Michael’s a five-star prospect,” said Gainesville catcher Skyler Weber. “He hits for power, has great speed, a great arm from the outfield, and a great four-pitch combo from the mound.
“He’s got a bright future and deserves every credit he gets to his name.”
And somehow, even with sky-high expectations for Gettys, he exceeded them all this season. He hit .389 with nine home runs, 45 RBIs and scored 44 runs. Then on the mound, he went 12-0 (four wins in postseason play) with a 2.04 ERA and 78 strikeouts over 61 Ã innings pitched.
For his efforts, Gettys is The Times’ Area Baseball Player of the Year.
“Michael did an incredible job for us this season in any role we put him in,” Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp said. “To do what he was able to do for us was just a huge boost for our team.”
As one of the youngest members of Gainesville’s (32-2) Region 8-AAA championship squad, Gettys gives all the credit for his success to the seniors, especially the three that started all four years of their career for the Red Elephants.
“It helped me a lot to play with guys as talented as they are that pushed me to be better,” Gettys said. “They always gave me great advice, telling me to keep working hard and not take anything for granted.”
Kemp said the great veteran leadership at the top made it easier for Gettys to relax and play baseball.
“Michael’s a very humble kid too,” Kemp said.
While Gettys was great during the regular season, he seemed to take it up another notch in the playoffs. Each time his team needed a boost, he delivered.
No instance was more noticeable with his ability to change the direction of a game than his state quarterfinal series against Carrollton. In Game 1 of the best-of-three series, the Red Elephants were struggling to get things going offensively and the score tied 1-1 in the fifth. After a triple earlier in the game, Gettys came through with another triple, that time driving in three runs as part of a nine-run inning.
He finished Game 1 with three extra-base hits.
“I really drove the ball well in the Carrollton series,” Gettys said. “I felt cheated my first at bat because their pitcher threw one inside and I hit it right back to the mound.
“When I came up to bat in the fifth with the bases loaded, I managed to hit it the other way and drive in some runs.”
Then in Game 2, Gettys, who was Gainesville’s No. 2 pitcher in the rotation, was the winning pitcher and collected six strikeouts, sending the Red Elephants to the state semifinals. His contribution at the plate that game was a solo home run to start the second inning, one of three homers for the team in the inning.
Gettys also had a home run in Gainesville’s second-round playoff sweep of West Laurens.
“We built the program around Michael this season,” Weber added.
Then in the state semifinals, Gettys kept its season alive with a complete-game performance in Game 2 to tie the series at 1-all, before falling in the decisive third game the following day.
Gettys, who is already verbally committed to the University of Georgia, was the only undefeated pitcher for Gainesville.
At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Gettys already has a pretty sophisticated understanding of pitching mechanics. Even though his fastball can run into the low 90s, which he says is his best pitch, he doesn’t depend entirely on just throwing it fast every time he goes to his glove.
“I feel like I’m getting stronger and really getting better with my control,” said Gettys. “I’m also getting better at learning when to go inside and when to go outside to hitters.
“I know the key is trying to change the hitter’s eye level.”
With his pitching savvy, it’s also helped Gettys become a better hitter. In the past, he says his weakness was chasing the outside curveball because it was starting down the heart of the plate. Now, he’s looking for that curveball that looks like it will be inside for the best chance to make solid contact on a ball that finishes in the strike zone.
Still, the ultimate goal of not winning the state championship this season weighs on Gettys. He wanted to help bring that for seniors David Gonzalez, Ryan Griffith and Stephen Mason, all experiencing their final postseason run with Gainesville in 2012.
However, with himself, Weber, third baseman/pitcher Hunter Anglin and infielder Sims Griffith all coming back for the Big Red next season, along with some other starters, that opportunity to put together a championship run is still possible, even with the jump to Class AAAAA.
“I’m very excited about what we have the chance to accomplish next season,” Gettys said. “My only concern is doing what I can for the team to be able to win the state title.”
“I’m really excited to see what this group of guys coming back next season are going to be able to accomplish,” Kemp added.