Jonathan Hughes made quick work of Gainesville on Friday.
The Flowery Branch right-handed junior ace needed just 88 pitches and allowed three hits to take down the Red Elephants (7-2, 2-1 Region 8-AAAAA) for a 3-1 victory. The game took just 75 minutes from first pitch to the final out at the Hog Mountain Sports Complex in South Hall.
Hughes’ only mistake on the night was a fastball over the middle that Gainesville’s Michael Gettys roped to the outfield in the sixth for an RBI single with two outs, but he recorded the final out of the inning with two runners in scoring position to avoid any further damage.
“To do what he did in an hour, 15 minutes is pretty awesome,” Flowery Branch coach Scott Myers said. “I’ll be honest, I expected John Boy to go out there and have a good game, and he did.”
Hughes was also the second batter to reach with no outs for the Falcons (7-3, 3-0) in the third inning and scored on Chad Kahlert’s two-out, two-run single.
Flowery Branch’s first run scored earlier in the frame when Justin Seabolt got on base after an errant throw to first, bringing Andrew Nolt home from third base.
Kahlert had the only hit in the third inning. Gainesville had two errors in the field that fueled Flowery Branch’s inning, along with two passed balls.
With a 3-0 lead in the fourth inning, Hughes went out and retired the Gainesville side in order.
“I feel like Jonathan is one of the best pitchers in our region, maybe even the state,” Myers said after the game.
The win wasn’t Hughes’ first brush with success against Gainesville. As a sophomore, he threw a one-hitter as part of a 5-2 victory, forcing a season series split between the two Hall County archrivals.
“It was a great feeling to throw like I did tonight,” said Hughes, who credited his defense for playing error-free baseball. “I love getting to compete and love getting to pitch.”
Trailing 3-1 in the top of the seventh, Gainesville’s Brandon Sewell connected on a long fly ball that took the Falcons’ center fielder all the way to the wall before he was able to make the catch for the first out in the inning.
In the sixth inning, Gainesville got two on with no outs when Drew Satterfield was hit by a pitch and Fedrick Cardona singled through the middle.
Hughes struck out the next two hitters before Gettys roped a single to left field.
After giving up three runs in the third inning, Gettys settled down on the mound for Gainesville. The only hit he allowed over the next three innings was when Seabolt knocked a one-out single in the bottom of the fifth.
Even with the win, Myers knows it is far too soon to know how Region 8-AAAAA is going to play out. Flowery Branch has nine more region games remaining, including Monday’s rematch against the Red Elephants on Monday at Ivey-Watson Field.
“We just have to continue to go out and play every game like we know we’re capable of playing,” Myers said.