Mitchell: Series loss doesn't finish the script for the Red Elephants
Momentum left Gainesville’s grasp in a split second in Game 3 of the state semifinal series against Ringgold on Tuesday at Ivey-Watson Field.
One second, the Red Elephants were celebrating Hunter Anglin’s two-run home run that tied the game in the fourth inning. Just minutes later, a costly baserunning mistake cost Gainesville two outs and brought a potentially big inning to a halt. Ringgold seized on that shift in momentum with eight runs in the bottom of the fourth inning, helping to wrap up an 11-3 win to claim the best-of-three series.
“When you lose a game 11-3, you make lots of mistakes,” Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp said.
With the loss, Gainesville’s season is now complete, while Ringgold (29-6) will host to top-ranked Columbus (31-4) in the Class AAA state championship series starting on Saturday.
“To finish the season 32-2 is something to be proud of,” Kemp said. “These guys accomplished a lot this season with a perfect regular season, region championship and making the semifinals.
“This team had a special, special group of seniors that we’re going to miss.”
For the second day in a row, it was a costly baserunning mistake that cost the Red Elephants dearly. Anglin’s home run tied the score at 2-2 in the top half of the fourth. Then Gainesville’s David Gonzalez reached on an error, and sophomore Michael Gettys got on next with a well-placed bunt down the third-base line.
After the bunt single, Ringgold’s third baseman went to the mound to talk to the pitcher and Gonzalez moved to third with no one covering.
That’s when Gainesville lost the momentum.
Next up, Caleb Whitenton hit a sharp grounder to third and Gonzalez was caught in a run down and tagged out. Also on the play, Gettys was a couple steps off second and a quick throw got him out for the double play.
“That was an awful, unfortunate double play,” Kemp said. “Caleb hit it hard and David didn’t have a chance to get back on the bag.”
“That double play got us out of a jam and allowed us to get the momentum back,” Ringgold coach Brent Tucker said.
Once Ringgold got up to bat in the bottom of the fourth, it put the game away. Andy Mocahbee took a high fastball for a solo home run over the left-field fence. That started an eight-run inning for the Tigers, seven of which crossed the plate with two outs.
A line-drive out off the bat of Corey Kafka was the second out of the inning, but Reed Walden kept the inning alive with a double to right field. Ringgold pushed two of its runs across the plate on passed balls. Adam Weldon and starting pitcher Austin Parrish followed that by reaching on infield singles.
The final blow of the inning was a three-run home run off the bat of Mocahbee, his second homer of the inning.
Ringgold struck first in the game with some clutch two-out hitting in the second inning. After Weldon started the inning and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, Wright Hackett and lead-off hitter Slade Dale connected on consecutive two-out RBI singles for the Tigers.
Parrish finished with a complete game for the Tigers. Even though he didn’t record a strikeout, he only allowed six hits and a walk.