There was no dispute as to which one of Brandon Sewell’s home runs had a bigger impact Wednesday in Gainesville’s two-game sweep of Sequoyah during the second-round playoff series at Ivey-Watson Field.
In Game 1, Sewell hit a solo shot to left field in the sixth inning when the Red Elephants (24-6) already held a big lead on the way to a 13-3 victory.
In Game 2, Gainesville’s junior right fielder gave it the cushion it needed with a three-run homer off the scoreboard in left field in the top of the seventh, shortly before Sims Griffith roped a two-run single to complete the 8-3 win.
With the sweep, the Red Elephants advance to the state quarterfinals to host the Starr’s Mill/Harris County winner in another best-of-three series starting Tuesday in Gainesville. The two possible opponents for the next round split in Wednesday’s doubleheader and will have a deciding Game 3 today.
With Gainesville leading just 3-2 at the time late in the nightcap, Sewell had a 2-2 count and one out when he saw a fast ball on the inside corner that he turned on for a mammoth home run.
“Golly, that was huge for us,” Gainesville coach Jeremy Kemp said. “That’s playoff baseball right there.”
“I was just glad I was able to come through for the team like that,” said Sewell. “He threw me a pitch I could drive.”
Sewell wasn’t the only player with a hot bat for Gainesville as it erased a 3-0 deficit to the Chiefs with 11 runs in the bottom of the fifth in the opener.
Griffith, who plays shortstop and closed out Game 2 in relief of starter Caleb Whitenton, finished the day with seven hits and seven RBIs.
Griffith, who made two throwing errors earlier in the first game, drove in the first two runs during the 11-run inning with a double to left field, scoring Fedrick Cardona and Drew Wright, who reached on a bunt single down the first-base line.
Later in the inning, Griffith had a bunt down the third-base line that rolled to the bag before it was fielded and scored another run. Game 1 starter Michael Gettys, who struck out nine batters on the mound, added a double, single and three RBIs during the frame.
“We had a lot of key hits all through the lineup tonight,” said Griffith, who pitched 2 2/3 innings of relief in Game 2. “Hitting is contagious with our team when we get going.”
Cardona started the inning, after Sequoyah scored three times in the top half of the inning, with a lead-off single to the left-field corner. Later in the inning he walked to bring in another run.
Second baseman Luke Maddox drove a single over second base to plate another pair of runs late in the fifth. The Red Elephants led 11-3 when Sewell came to the plate in the sixth for his solo homer.
Sequoyah scored all three runs in Game 1 during the visitor’s portion of the fifth. Brantley Flanagan reached first after a bunt single and was able to advance to second on a grounder by Jacob Cagle. After Flanagan scored on a passed ball, Tristan Roberts had an RBI double for the Chiefs, then scored after Evan Ezell reached on a throwing error to first base.
Other than a minor hiccup in the fifth inning, Gettys was in control for Gainesville on the mound. In the fourth, he pitched around Sequoyah putting runners on the corners with one out without allowing any damage. Gettys allowed just three hits and a pair of walks.'
GAINESVILLE 8, SEQUOYAH 3: In Game 2, the Red Elephants were clinging to a one-run lead in the seventh, after Griffith put them ahead with an RBI single with two outs in the sixth inning.
With one out in the seventh, Gettys drove a one-out single to start the five-run inning, and catcher Michael Curry drew a walk. Both runners advanced to scoring position on a pitch in the dirt.
Sewell didn’t let the opportunity go to waste with his long homer that went off the scoreboard beyond the left-field fence.
After Sewell’s homer cleared the bases, the Red Elephants drew three straight walks in the bottom third of the batting order. Griffith stepped up in the lead-off spot with his seventh hit of the night, a two-run single.
“Sims is an amazing player and a lot of fun to watch,” Kemp said. “He didn’t start out well tonight, but he’s the kind of player that doesn’t let mistakes phase him.
“He’s the sparkplug for our team.”
Whitenton threw four no-hit innings to start the game for Gainesville as it jumped to an early 2-0 lead. After Griffith entered in relief in the bottom of the fifth, Sequoyah’s Evan Ezell cranked a two-run single to tie the score 2-2 on the first pitch he saw.
Griffith made up for his mistake on the mound with an RBI single up the middle in the top of the sixth inning to reclaim the lead, 3-2. The Red Elephants’ reliever also pitched around letting two Chiefs runners on in the bottom of the inning.
With the loss, Sequoyah’s season is now finished.