The pitching depth for Gainesville is pleasing to coach Jeremy Kemp and could serve the program well in the postseason.
Caleb Whitenton threw the first three innings without allowing a hit and reliever Harrison Styles came on in relief to retire the final six hitters in order for a five-inning no-hitter and 13-1 victory against Cedar Shoals on Wednesday at Ivey-Watson Field.
The Red Elephants (19-6, 13-2 Region 8-AAAAA) earned the Region 8-AAAAA championship by way of second-place Loganville’s 10-9 loss to Salem on Wednesday night.
Whitenton, who ordinarily plays first base, struggled with his control at times and allowed three walks, but the only run he surrendered was in the top of the first inning with a wild pitch that scored Cedar Shoals pitcher Adrian Haynes from third.
After a rocky first inning where Whitenton faced six Jaguars (2-19, 0-14) batters, including Haynes, who was hit by a pitch to start the game, the Red Elephants’ starter got back on track and retired the side on strikeouts in the third inning.
When Styles came in to pitch in relief in the fourth inning for Gainesville, he retired the first four batters on strikeouts, then induced a groundout for the final two outs of the game in the fifth.
“Harrison did a real good job coming in and throwing the ball,” Kemp said.
Combined with Whitenton’s and Styles’ pairing for a no-hitter, a smattering of extra-base hits were enough for the Red Elephants to come away with the region title by the end of the night.
Gainesville’s starting pitcher drove in the first two of four scored in the third inning with a two-run home run to left field. He drove in Michael Gettys, who reached on a walk to open the inning.
Following a double with no outs by Drew Satterfield to put two in scoring position, both right fielder Brandon Sewell and Fedrick Cardona scored on two of nine wild pitches thrown by Cedar Shoals.
Gainesville’s only other extra-base hit was Gettys’ sharply-hit double past shortstop in the first inning that plated a run. Even though the ball was fielded cleanly in the outfield, Gettys kept running and made it to second standing up.
He would later score on a passed ball.
First baseman Sam Carpenter added a two-run single for the Red Elephants as part of its seven-run first. A grounder by Carpenter in the second inning off the second baseman’s glove of the Jaguars drove in another pair of runs.
The Red Elephants have played particularly well down the stretch in region competition with eight straight victories and wins in nine of their last 10 Region 8-AAAAA contests.
The lone loss during that stretch was 4-1 against Loganville on April 4, but Gainesville rebounded with a win against the Red Devils (17-8, 11-4) three days later.