Gainesville baseball coach Jeremy Kemp didn’t feel the need to celebrate Friday’s 13-1 win at Ivey-Watson Field against Johnson — not with Monday’s game against Lambert weighing on his mind and staring the Red Elephants in the face.
“This game is going to be huge,” Kemp said. “The winner is in the driver’s seat in the subregion.”
Gainesville (13-1, 8-0 Region 7-AAA) still has both games remaining against Lambert this season. However, the winner of next week’s game against the Longhorns (10-3, 8-0) takes first place in the subregion with both teams currently holding a three-game cushion on the rest of the teams in the field. Lambert defeated Flowery Branch 22-10 on Friday night in Flowery Branch.
“People say that we’re not as good as Gainesville teams in the past, and we just want to prove them wrong,” said Gainesville sophomore David Gonzalez, who earned the win against the Knights (7-6, 5-3).
And from the looks of things right now, Gonzalez might have some credibility to his feeling that Gainesville is pretty well rounded. The Red Elephants have a young, but talented pitching staff, including Gonzalez, who moved to 3-0 on the season with seven strikeouts against the Knights, and freshman Hunter Anglin, who is 4-0 and will pitch against Lambert on Monday in Suwanee.
Gainesville also has the bats working. Against Johnson, the Red Elephants poked three home runs, including a fourth-inning grand slam from Michael Lorentz.
“One through nine in our order can all hit the ball and have the ability to hit the ball out of the park,” Gainesville senior shortstop K.J. McAllister said. “Everyone in our order is a tough out.”
On Friday, Gainesville wasted little time showing off its ability to hit the long ball. Following a leadoff single from Stephen Mason in the first inning, Will Maddox connected on a two-run home run on a 2-0 count to right field. McAllister followed that up with a solo home run on a 3-2 count to almost the same spot over the right field fence.
“This was certainly a big win for us, but I may smile on Monday if we can win that one,” Kemp said.
Anglin and Gonzalez followed with RBIs later in the first inning.
In the fourth inning, Sloan Strickland walked, Ryan Griffith singled and Anderson Loggins connected on an RBI single to load the bases. Following a run-scoring walk from Anglin, and an RBI single from Gonzalez, Lorentz connected on his second grand slam of the season. On the mound, Gonzalez (3-for-3, three RBIs) was just as strong. He recorded seven strikeouts and allowed one earned run.
“Pitching sets the foundation for our team,” Kemp said. “We feel like our kids are going to hit the ball well.”
Trae Wilson had a solo home run for the Knights.
Johnson plays host to West Forsyth at 5:55 p.m. Monday.